Modeling of absorptive wells pollution on groundwater

Document Type : علمی - پژوهشی


1 Department of Environmental Science, Faculty of Natural Resources and Environmental Science, Malayer University, Malayer, Iran

2 Department of Research and Technology, Ministry of Science, Research and Technology, Tehran, Iran


Introduction: Absorptive wells are one of the most common forms of onsite sanitation facilities in many developing countries. These latrines are suitable as a means of isolating human waste; however, conditions within pits often lead to nitrification of the contained waste. In areas with a near-surface aquifer, the potential for nitrate pollution arising from Absorptive wells cannot be ignored.Material and methods: In this study, Hypothetical aquifer was made, to gather relevant information about the Absorptive wells in use and the soil and groundwater underneath the Hypothetical aquifer. Modeling was then conducted to demonstrate the potential for nitrate pollution of the groundwater from the latrines in such settings. The depth from the bottom of the pits to the water table was considered as 5, 10 or 30 m, to represent the range of aquifer depths at the study sites. Nitrate half-lives ranging from 500 to 1500 days were considered, and time scales from 6 months to several years were modeled.Results and discussion: The results highlighted the high likelihood of nitrate pollution of groundwater reaching levels exceeding the World Health Organization guideline value for nitrate in drinking water of 50 mg/L after as short a period as two years for the aquifer situated 5 m below the pits, when considering moderate to long nitrate half-lives in the subsurface. Careful siting of latrines away from high water table areas, more frequent pit emptying, or switching to urine diversion toilets may be effective solutions to reduce nitrate passage from Absorptive wells into groundwater, although these solutions may not always be applicable, because of social, technical and economic constraints.Conclusion: The study highlights the need for more reliable data on the typical nitrate concentrations in Absorptive wells and the nitrate half-life in different subsurface conditions.


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