Chloride/bromide and chloride/fluoride ratios of domestic sewage effluents and associated contaminated ground water

Avner Vengosh, Irena Pankratov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Scopus citations


To establish geochemical tools for tracing the origin of ground water contamination, we examined the variations of Cl/Br and Cl/F (weight) ratios in (1) domestic waste water from the Dan Region Sewage Reclamation Project and from reservoirs in the central coast of Israel; (2) associated contaminated ground water; and (3) pristine ground water from the Mediterranean coastal aquifer of Israel. Our data show that supply water, anthropogenic NaCl and fluoridation control the Cl/Br (410 to 873) and Cl/F (468 to 1070) ratios of domestic waste water, and conventional sewage treatment does not affect the anthropogenic inorganic signals. The Cl/Br ratios of ground water contaminated with sewage effluent reflect conservative mixing proportions of sewage and regional ground water components. Sensitivity tests demonstrate that it is possible to detect and distinguish sewage contamination from marine ratios after a sewage contribution of 5 to 15% is mixed with regional ground water. Mixing with Br-enriched fresh water (e.g., Sea of Galilee; Cl/Br=145), however, would reduce this sensitivity. Since the high Cl/Br signal of sewage effluents is distinguishable from other anthropogenic sources with low Cl/Br ratios (e.g., street runoff, agriculture return flows) and from natural contamination sources (e.g., salt water intrusion; Cl/Br=293), Cl/Br ratios can therefore be a useful inorganic tracer for identification of the origin of contaminated ground water. The CFF ratios of sewage-contaminated ground water (284 to 5186) were higher than those in the original sewage effluent, which suggests retention of fluoride into the aquifer solid phase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)815-824
Number of pages10
JournalGround Water
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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