Septic systems and municipal waste disposal on land

Charles P. Gerba, Michael J. Goss, Adrian Unc

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


On-site – mainly septic systems – and centralized wastewater treatment systems treat vast volumes daily. Most wastewater from septic systems reaches soils via covered leaching beds. Municipal biosolids are applied to cropland for their nutrient value after receiving treatments of various intensity but the soil is relied on to act as a treatment medium by adsorbing and degrading contaminants, inactivating viruses, and reducing viability of other pathogens. The efficacy of soil treatment depends on climate, hydraulic loading which is managed to induce fast or slow infiltration, the hydraulic properties of the soil, and the functional state of the soil biology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Soils in the Environment, Second Edition
ISBN (Electronic)9780128229743
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023


  • Bacteria
  • Biochemical oxygen demand
  • Biofilm
  • Biosolids
  • Disinfection by-products
  • Endocrine disruptors
  • Helminths
  • Inactivation
  • Infiltration processes
  • Municipal sewage
  • Overland flow processes
  • Protozoa
  • Septic systems
  • Survival
  • Viruses
  • Wastewater treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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