The rapid rise of population in the United States, with a framework of urban-industrial economy dependent on the water-transport of wastes, foretells an ever-increasing proportion of its over-all water resources will be used water. Alarm has been rising over the presence of refractory materials in waste waters; and alkylbenzenesulfonate (ABS) has been the object of most investigative work. In the western United States the fate of ABS in soils is of more than academic importance. Substitution of sewage or sewage effluents for the normal source of irrigation water, poses the question of whether the value of the water in sewage and sewage effluents is in any way decreased by its contaminants. The experiments described concern maximizing the ABS-degradation capabilities of soils involved laboratory-scale column studies and studying the effect of ABS on plant growth, and the uptake by plants.