Performance of a Combined Natural Wastewater Treatment System in West Texas

Runbin Duan, Clifford B. Fedler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


A study of performance of a combined natural wastewater treatment system was conducted in an arid and semiarid area of West Texas from October 2005 to September 2007. This study investigated the organic matter and nitrogen removal capability in a municipal wastewater land application system following a pond system. Municipal wastewater from the city of Littlefield, Tex. was pretreated by a pond system, and the secondary wastewater effluent from the pond system was surface applied to sprayfield at the wastewater treatment plant and the city farm. The 16 lysimeters were installed in situ to collect the leached water passing the grass root zone. The water samples were taken from the storage pond and the lysimeters for analysis of chemical oxygen demand (COD), total nitrogen, nitrate nitrogen, and ammonia nitrogen. The data show that the pond system played an important role in the treatment. The pond system pretreated COD in the municipal wastewater to the range of 10 to 127 mg/L, total nitrogen to the range of 5 to 19 mg/L, nitrate nitrogen to the range of 2.4 to 8.2 mg/L, and ammonia nitrogen to the range of 0.01 to 6.4 mg/L. The average mass removals and cumulative mass removals were 94 and 96% for total nitrogen, 92 and 93% for nitrate nitrogen, and 96 and 100% for ammonia nitrogen, respectively. There was no potential nitrogen contamination to groundwater found during the research period. The study illustrated that this type of combined natural wastewater treatment system can be used to effectively treat and safely dispose municipal wastewater, and save freshwater used for agricultural irrigation in arid and semiarid area.

Original languageEnglish
Article number005003QIR
Pages (from-to)204-209
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • Arid lands
  • Irrigation
  • Irrigation systems
  • Land application
  • Land management
  • Ponds
  • Texas
  • Wastewater management
  • Wastewater use
  • Water reclamation


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