Seasonal virus removal by alternative onsite wastewater treatment systems

Matthew R. Olson, Richard P. Axler, Randall E. Hicks, Jerald R. Henneck, Barbara J. McCarthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Viral contamination of public waters is a leading health concern around the world, including in Minnesota where cold climate, abundant onsite systems on poor or thin soils, and abundant surface water resources present a significant risk of wastewater pathogens reaching sensitive water sources. Three alternative onsite treatment systems, a sand filter, peat filter and subsurface-flow constructed wetland (CW) at a field research site were evaluated for seasonal virus removal by seeding each with MS2 bacteriophage. The sand and peat filters and CW removed 2.7, 7.0, and 1.4 log10 of MS2, respectively, during summer and 1.8 and 6.9 log for the sand and peat filter during winter (CW not seeded). Somatic coliphage reductions for the sand filter, peat filter and CW were 2.9, 3.5, 1.0 log10 in summer, and 1.5, 2.8, 0.7 log 10 during winter, respectively over a 3 year period. During this period, fecal coliform log10 reductions were 2.9, 4.6, 2.0 in summer for the sand and peat filters and CW, and 2.0, 4.6, 1.6 in winter. The peat filter was the most effective system for removing MS2, somatic coliphage and fecal coliforms during both winter and summer but all systems removed >90% of viruses throughout the year.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-155
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Water and Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2005


  • Fecal coliforms
  • Onsite treatment
  • Pathogens
  • Pollution
  • Viruses
  • Wastewater


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