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Estimating the Hydrological Performance of On-Site Wastewater (Leachbed) Treatment Systems in Poorly Drained Soil

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2016 10th International Drainage Symposium Conference, 6-9 September 2016, Minneapolis, Minnesota  .(doi:10.13031/IDS.20162493457)
Authors:   Rogelio Toledo De Leon, Norman R. Fausey, Larry C. Brown
Keywords:   DRAINMOD, drainage, soil and water, water quality.

Abstract. On-Site Wastewater Treatment Systems (OSWTS) do not function properly when saturated soil conditions are present. Saturated conditions cause a hydraulic short circuit in the system resulting in insufficient treatment of effluents. Contamination of groundwater and surface water is a result of deep percolation of untreated effluent. Impacts to human and ecological health due to untreated effluent include: eutrophication of water bodies, harmful algal blooms, drinking water quality concerns, and pharmaceutical and personal care products in water bodies, which studies suggest can lead to ecological and human harm. DRAINMOD, a water management model, was used for the hydrological evaluations of drain depth and spacing combinations between leachbeds and engineered drains. Simulations were conducted for three different soil descriptions under Blount Soil Series 0 to 2% slope, and five different 30 year climate records. Factors analyzed in this study were climate record, soil description, drain depth and spacing individually, and drain depth and spacing combination. Data analyses were based on the depth and duration of the water table below ground surface. Results analysis indicated that there was significant evidence for factor effects on the mean number of days that the water table depth criteria were equaled or exceeded. Drain depth was considered the most influential factor, followed by soil description, drain spacing, and climate record. The results from this study strongly support that, by the installation of engineered drains, the hydrological performance of OSWTS installed in poorly drained soils can be improved.

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