Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering


Civil and Environmental Engineering


College of Engineering


Rebekah Oulton

Advisor Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Advisor College

College of Engineering


Soil aquifer treatment (SAT) of treated wastewater performance was evaluated across published full-scale and lab-scale studies developing insights on the aquifer and operational factors that affect SAT efficacy. The goal of this study was to develop a basis for predicting the contaminant removal capabilities of any given aquifer during managed recharge with treated wastewater.

Over 40 published SAT studies were reviewed and systematically compared to determine the influence of five major factors on contaminant removal performance: geologic composition, geochemical conditions, hydrogeological conditions, operational methods, and source water quality. Removal mechanisms for standard contaminants (dissolved and total organic carbon, nitrogen, and pathogens) were considered for each factor. By supplementing the theoretical understanding of contaminant removal in SAT systems with full scale and lab scale results, recommendations were developed for practical and effective SAT feasibility standards.

SAT of standard contaminants was found to be most effective in aquifers with a water table below 20-meters. SAT was also most favorable for source water with 10 to 20-mg/L of bulk organics and less than 10-mg/L of total nitrogen. Moreover, extended residence times in the saturated zone provide little additional bulk organic and nitrogen removal for aquifers with vadose zones that achieve more than 85% of total bulk organic removal. The results of this study should enhance feasibility studies for future soil aquifer treatment projects, thereby facilitating the use of sustainable indirect potable reuse.