Date of Award

5-2002

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Ecology and Environmental Sciences

Advisor

Ivan J. Fernandez

Second Committee Member

M. Susan Erich

Third Committee Member

Willem Brutsaert

Abstract

The Carrabassett Valley Sanitary District in Carrabassett Valley, Maine has utilized both a forest spray irrigation system and a Snowfluent™ system for the treatment of their wastewater effluent. This study was designed to evaluate potential changes in soil properties after approximately 20 years of treatment in the forested spray irrigation site and three years of treatment in the field Snowfluent™ site. In addition, grass yield and composition were evaluated on the field study sites. After treatment with effluent or Snowfluent™, soils showed an increase in soil exchangeable Ca, Mg, Na, and K, base saturation, and pH. While most constituents were higher in treated soils, available P was lower in treated soils compared to the controls. This difference was attributed to higher rates of P mineralization from soil organic matter due to an irrigation effect of the treatment, depleting available P pools despite the P addition with the treatment. Most of the differences due to treatment were greatest at the surface and diminished with depth. Depth patterns in soil properties mostly reflected the decreasing influence of organic matter and its decomposition products with depth as evidenced by significantly higher total C in the surface compared to lower horizons. There were decreasing concentrations of total N, and exchangeable or extractable Ca, Mg, Na, K, Mn, Zn, and P with depth. In addition, there was decreasing BS with depth, driven primarily by declining exchangeable Ca and Mg. Imgation with Snowfluent™ altered the chemical composition of the grass on the site. All element concentrations were significantly higher in the grass foliage except for Ca. The differences were attributed to the additional nutrients and moisture derived from the Snowfluent™. The use of forest spray imgation and Snowfluent™ as a wastewater treatment strategy appears to work well. The soil and vegetation were able to retain most of the applied nutrients, and do not appear to be moving toward saturation. Vegetation management may be a key tool for managing nutrient accumulation on the grass sites as the system ages.

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