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Dilution effects on the quality of untreated wastewater used for irrigation along the USA-Mexico border

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The Juarez Valley, located along the USA-Mexico border, currently relies on untreated municipal and industrial wastewater from nearby Ciudad Juarez (est. pop. 1.6 million) which has been diluted with water diverted from the Rio Bravo (Rio Grande), and groundwater from underlying aquifers, to irrigate 18000 hectares of crops. The results indicate that dilution does very little to reduce the risks associated with the use of untreated wastewater for irrigation as faecal coliforms levels remained high (> 10 7 cfu/100 ml). Concentrations of heavy metals were low in the raw wastewater and in the mixed waters. However, the practice of diluting raw wastewater seriously degrades significant volumes of high quality waters from the Rio Bravo and from the underlying aquifer, and thus is not an optimal use of the limited high-quality water available to this semi-arid region.
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Keywords: IRRIGATION; USA-MEXICO BORDER; WASTEWATER REUSE; WATER QUALITY

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 1999

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