Date of Defense




First Advisor

Dr. Duane Hampton

Second Advisor

Jiamin Wan

Third Advisor

Dr. Estella Atekwana


Almost one-third of the US water supply comes from groundwater. As we continue to rely on groundwater for our water supply, artificial recharge of aquifers will become more common. Using treated wastewater to recharge is an economically feasible option, but the safety of this practice must be carefully studied. We need to prevent contamination from disease causing bacteria and viruses that are associated with human excreta.

When viruses are subjected to unsaturated flow conditions, many become inactivated and are removed from the soil solution. According to the hypothesis proposed by Wan and Tokunaga, thin film straining due to unsaturated flow is a mechanism of colloid removal. If the saturation is low enough and the film of water surrounding the grains is smaller than the diameter of the virus, viruses should be affected by thin film straining. This study tested the above hypothesis using a procedure similar to that which was used by Wan and Tokunaga. Due to lack of experience in working with viruses and limited time, assessing the level of thin-film straining of viruses proved difficult. The results of this study are inconclusive. Even though thin film straining may have occurred, the degree to which this happened is not known. This remains a valuable question, but it needs to be approached under more controlled experimental conditions.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only