Character of organic matter in soil-aquifer treatment systems

Jörg E. Drewes, David M. Quanrud, Gary L. Amy, Paul K. Westerhoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to investigate the character and fate of bulk organics in reclaimed water used for groundwater recharge via soil-aquifer treatment (SAT). The study design followed a watershed guided approach considering hydraulically corresponding samples of drinking water sources, SAT-applied wastewater effluents, and subsequent post-SAT samples representing a series of different travel times in the subsurface. Water samples were fractionated into hydrophobic acids, transphilic acids, and hydrophilic carbon using a XAD resin-based protocol. Extensive characterization of organic carbon in the different samples was performed using state-of-the-art analytical techniques including excitation-emission matrix fluorescence spectroscopy, size exclusion chromatography, carbon-13 nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (13C-NMR), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and elemental analysis. During SAT, transphilic and hydrophilic organic matter were preferentially removed. The results generally demonstrated that naturally derived (NOM) and effluent-derived organic matter after SAT overlap extensively in molecular weight distribution, amount and distribution of hydrophobic and hydrophilic carbon fractions, and chemical characteristics based on elemental analysis and 13C-NMR and FTIR spectroscopy. However, the residual portion of the dissolved organic carbon contained both effluent-derived organic matter and NOM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1447-1458
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Environmental Engineering
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2006


  • Aquifers
  • Ground-water recharge
  • Organic matter
  • Soil treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Environmental Science


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