Variable non-linear removal of viruses during transport through a saturated soil column

Walter Q. Betancourt, Jack Schijven, Julia Regnery, Alexandre Wing, Christina M. Morrison, Jörg E. Drewes, Charles P Gerba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Reduction of viral surrogates (bacteriophage MS2 and murine norovirus-1 [MNV-1]) and viruses naturally present in wastewater (enteroviruses, adenoviruses, Aichi viruses, reovirus, pepper mild mottle virus) was studied in a long-term experiment simulating soil-aquifer treatment of a non-disinfected secondary treated wastewater effluent blend using a 4.4 m deep saturated soil column (95% sand, 4% silt, 1% clay) with a hydraulic residence time of 15.4 days under predominantly anoxic redox conditions. Water samples were collected over a four-week period from the column inflow and outflow as well as from seven intermediate sampling ports at different depths. Removal of MS2 was 3.5 log 10 over 4.4 m and removal of MNV-1 was 3 log 10 over 0.3 m. Notably, MNV-1 was removed to below detection limit within 0.3 m of soil passage. In secondary treated wastewater effluent, MNV-1 RNA and MS2 RNA degraded at a first-order rate of 0.59 day −1 and 0.12 day −1 , respectively. In 15.4 days, the time to pass the soil column, the RNA-degradation of MS2 would amount to 0.8 log 10, and in one day that of MNV-1 0.3 log 10 implying that attachment of MNV-1 and MS2 to the sandy soil took place. Among the indigenous viruses, genome copies reductions were observed for Aichi virus (4.9 log 10 ) and for pepper mild mottle virus (4.4 log 10 ). This study demonstrated that under saturated flow and predominantly anoxic redox conditions MS2 removal was non-linear and could be described well by a power-law relation. Pepper mild mottle virus was removed less than all of the other viruses studied, which substantiates field studies at managed aquifer recharge sites, suggesting it may be a conservative model/tracer for enteric virus transport through soil.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Groundwater recharge
  • Soil-aquifer treatment
  • Soil-column, removal
  • Viruses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology

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