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Effectiveness of Natural Treatment in a Wastewater Irrigation District of the Mexico City Region: A Synoptic Field Survey

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Untreated wastewater from Mexico City has been used for decades to irrigate the Mezquital Valley, Hidalgo, Mexico. A synoptic survey of the natural treatment systems was carried out using the criteria of 24 trace metals, 67 target base/neutral/acid (BNA) semivolatile organic compounds, nontarget BNA semivolatile organics, nitrate, 23 chlorinated pesticides, and a 20 congener polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) suite. Data suggest the irrigation region is acting as a huge open-system slow sand filter, the main reservoir as a large waste stabilization lagoon, and the canals as extremely long, narrow stabilization channels. The BNA levels in surface water (SW) after reservoir retention were much lower than before it, while levels in groundwater (GW) were significantly lower than SW. All GW nitrate levels exceeded drinking water standards and were greater than those in SW. Metal levels in GW were below drinking water standards, and SW levels exceeded them for only a few metals. Low to moderate levels of organochlorine pesticides and PCBs were found.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2000

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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