The purpose of this study was to investigate the movement of chloride through a vadose zone located under failed and non-regulated septic tanks of Duhok city, Kurdistan of Iraq, potentially contaminating its groundwater. A physical vadose model (PVM) of a vertical flow direction was built in the laboratory to represent the city soil profile. The size of the PVM was 210 × 122 × 9.7 cm (height, width, and depth). Preliminary soil tests were conducted to better represent the lithology of study area. The PVM was then packed with regional silt clay soil, after modifying its texture, using an innovative packing procedure to preserve natural soil density and porosity. The model was run for a period of three months with newly collected septic water (black water from a septic tank) as an exclusive source of contaminants. Water samples from eight vertically arranged portals representing 12.5, 37.5, 62.5, 87.5, 112.5, 137.5, 162.5, and 187.5 cm levels in the subsurface soil profile were collected on a daily basis and analyzed weekly. Logistic regression and logarithmic models were developed to spatially predict the movement of chloride ions at different sampling depths in the soil profile until the system had reached the equivalent chloride concentration of the septic water or had stabilized. There was a good agreement between the physical model and the statistical models, however each model had its strengths and weaknesses. This study demonstrated that there is a potential for septic water to reach the water table within a 2–3 weeks period. Dilution and dispersion appear to play important roles in the fate and transport of septic water. This study has the potential to help the local authorities predict percolation rates and establish strategies for groundwater management in order to protect the public health.
Kochary, S.; Byl, T.; Noori, B. Modeling the Movement of Septic Water Chloride through a Soil Profile. Sustainability 2017, 9, 501. https://doi.org/10.3390/su9040501