Australia is a water-stressed nation and demand on potable water supply is increasing. Consequently water conservation and reuse are increasingly becoming important. Irrigation of recycled wastewater on water repellent soils is a technology that is being trialled as a means of improving crop production and conserving potable supply. However, recycled water contains potentially harmful heavy metals. This paper reports the competitive sorption and desorption of several common heavy metals found in soils collected from a farm located in the southeast of South Australia. The soil from this location is severely water repellent, but some sites were amended with kaolinite clay (Si 4Al4O10(OH)8) about 7 and 15 years ago. The metals studied were Cu, Pb, Cd, Cr, Ni, and Zn. Competitive sorption of the metals was distinctly observed. For all heavy metals, the quantity of metal sorbed was higher in amended soil, and there was a strong correlation between the specific sorption to total sorption ratio and the amount of clay in the soil. The sorption intensities varied with metal, Cr, Pb, and Cu having a high sorption tendencies and Zn, Cd, and Ni having comparatively low sorption tendencies. The total sorption capacity for all metals increased in clay-treated soils compared with non-treated soils. On average, clay-amended water repellent soils had a 20-40% increased capacity to adsorb total metals; however, this increase was largely caused by the increased capacities to adsorb Zn, Cd, and Ni. The effect of clay treatment largely enhanced the sorption capacity of relatively weakly adsorbing heavy metals. The implications for using recycled wastewater on the long-term sustainable agro-environmental management of these soils are discussed.
- Heavy metal
- Recycled wastewater