Viral contamination of drinking water supplies due to inadequate renovation of septic tank effluent (STE) is a public health concern. The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the use of a bacteriophage to evaluate virus movement in a soil treatment system. Viruses - MS2 bacteriophage - were injected into a wastewater treatment system with soil absorption trenches and drainage tiles, and the drain tile effluent was collected and assayed for the phage. The virus suspension was assayed and a measured amount of STE and virus suspension was pumped into the system allowing for calculation of the influent virus titer. Results of the virus assays showed that the wastewater treatment system generally achieves a 99.0 (2 log) to 99.9% (3 log) reduction in the concentration of viable bacteriophage after moving through one meter of silt loam soil. This paper illustrates the procedures to utilize and assay for bacteriophage in the harsh environment of a working onsite wastewater treatment system.

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