Agricultural use of treated municipal wastewaters preserving environmental sustainability

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Antonio Lonigro *
Maurizia Catalano
Pietro Rubino
(*) Corresponding Author:
Antonio Lonigro | mikimos@mac.com

Abstract

In this paper the utility of the treated municipal wastewaters in agriculture, analyzing the chemical, physical and microbiological characteristics and their pollution indicators evaluation are being illustrated. Some methods employed for treating wastewaters are examined, as well as instructions and rules actually in force in different countries of the world, for evaluating the legislative hygienic and sanitary and agronomic problems connected with the treated wastewaters use, are being collected and compared. Successively, in order to provide useful indications for the use of treated municipal wastewaters, results of long-term field researches, carried out in Puglia, regarding two types of waters (treated municipal wastewater and conventional water) and two irrigation methods (drip and capillary sub-irrigation) on vegetable crops grown in succession, are being reported. For each crop cycle, chemical physical and microbiological analyses have been performed on irrigation water, soil and crop samples. The results evidenced that although irrigating with waters having high colimetric values, higher than those indicated by law and with two different irrigation methods, never soil and marketable yield pollutions have been observed. Moreover, the probability to take infection and/or disease for ingestion of fruits coming from crops irrigated with treated wastewaters, calculated by Beta-Poisson method, resulted negligible and equal to 1 person for 100 millions of exposed people. Concentrations of heavy metals in soil and crops were lesser than those admissible by law. The free chlorine, coming from disinfection, found in the wastewaters used for watering, in some cases caused toxicity effects, which determined significant yield decreases. Therefore, municipal wastewaters, if well treated, can be used for irrigation representing a valid alternative to the conventional ones.

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