Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Civil Engineering

First Advisor

James N. Dornbush


In October, 1972, Congress passed PL 92-500, "Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 1; which is designed to upgrade the quality of the nation's water. The act requires the formulation of effluent standards that would require use of “best practicable treatment”. The effluent standards are to require use of the "best available" technology by July 1, 1983 (1). PL 92-500 requires the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator to publish information explaining which treatment techniques may be used to meet the requirement of "best practicable treatment". Land application of wastewater has been designated as a viable alternative to traditional treatment systems. In order for new treatment facilities to qualify for federal funding, land application must be considered as one of the treatment alternatives. If land application meets certain criteria for cost effectiveness, land application must be used (2). Several investigations of land treatment of wastewater have been conducted at South Dakota State University (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11). The quality of natural seepage of wastewater from poorly-sealed stabilization ponds at Volga, Milbank and Beresford, South Dakota, was studied by Druvystein (3). Tiltrum (4) and Sherman (5) used soil lysimeters to treat stabilization pond effluent from Brookings and Madison, South Dakota. These early investigations showed that soil treatment produced an effluent of good quality. The infiltration rates found by Tiltrum and Sherman were too low to allow large-scale use of the system. To determine the applicability of earlier studies and the feasibility of using land treatment on a large scale, a rapid infiltration pilot unit was constructed near the Brookings stabilization pond with help from the city of Brookings and funds from the South Dakota Water Resources Institute at SDSU. With funding from the EPA, operation of the pilot unit began in 1975. The results of the first year of operation were reported by Alsaker, Voogt and Miller (6, 7, 8). Alsaker (6) studied the ability of the unit to meet discharge standards. Voogt (7) determined infiltration rates and the hydraulic characteristics of the pilot unit while Miller (8) evaluated winter operations and possible winter operating constraints. Changes designed to improve the treatment accomplished by the pilot unit were made in 1976. Three Master of Science theses resulted from the second year of operation (9, 10, 11). DeMers (9) determined the treatment abilities of the unit while Larson (10) continued investigations of groundwater hydraulics of the system. Dickinson (11) investigated nitrogen forms and nitrogen transformations in the soil. Further changes, including installation of an additional system of plastic drains at a lower level, were made in 1977 to further improve the treatment capabilities of the pilot unit. As in previous years, study of the pilot unit was divided into different areas. Objectives similar to these of Alsaker and DeMers were the subject of the author. These objectives were: 1. To determine the ability of the pilot unit to satisfy various effluent discharge standards regarding biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), suspended solids (SS), ammonia nitrogen, pH, and dissolved oxygen (DO) with special attention to data collected during the spring season, 2. To determine whether nitrate concentrations in the effluent from the pilot unit would be in violation of drinking water standards, 3. To compare differences in treatment between the two drain systems as measured by effluent water quality, and 4. To determine whether significant differences in treatment existed between the basins.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Sewage -- Purification -- Filtration
Sewage lagoons




South Dakota State University