Effects of soil texture, soil depth, and treatment on septic tank effluent renovation

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Virginia Tech


This study compared the effects of soil texture, soil depth, and additional treatment, by constructed wetland (CW) and recirculating sand filter (RSF) systems, on wastewater renovation in a texture group 2 (loam) and a texture group 3 (clay loam) soil. The soils with depths of 15, 30, and 45 cm were placed in the columns with a Gidding's hydraulic soil probe in order to retain the soils structure in situ. The texture group 2 columns were dosed with septic tank eflluent (STE), constructed wetland effluent (eWE), and recirculating sand filter effluent (RSFE) at 685 cm³ per day and the texture group 3 columns were dosed at 670 cm³ per day with the same effluents. These dosing events were split into 2 separate (12 h) events. The leachate from both groups of soil columns were analyzed for fecal coliforms (FC), biochemical oxygen demand (BODs), ammonium (NH₄-N), nitrate (NO₃-N), phosphate (PO₄-P), pH, total dissolved solids (TDS), electrical conductivity (EC), and chloride.

In the texture group 2 soil the reduction in fecal coliform numbers was 88% and 99%, respectively, for the CW and the RSF and, in the texture group 3 soil was 91% and 99%, respectively, for the CW and the RSF. There was a reduction in BODs concentrations of 32% and 69% ,respectively, for the CW and the RSF. There was a 42% and 84% decrease in NH₄ concentrations, respectively, for the CW and the RSF. These reductions show that treatment of STE by CW or RSF can be substituted for soil depth in texture group 2 and 3 soils and will improve drainfield performance. Texture group 2 soils are less effective at STE renovation than texture group 3 soils at all soil depths. This was evidenced by higher FC counts and concentrations of BOD, N, and P in the leachates from these columns.



soil composition