The fate and transport of pathogenic bacteria from wastewater treatment facilities in the Earth's subsurface have attracted extensive concern over recent decades, while the impact of treated-wastewater chemistry on bacterial viability and transport behavior remains unclear. The influence of retention time in effluent from a full-scale municipal wastewater treatment plant on the survival and deposition of Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli strains in sand columns was investigated in this paper. In comparison to the bacteria cultivated in nutrient-rich growth media, retention in treated wastewater significantly reduced the viability of all strains. Bacterial surface properties, e.g., zeta potential, hydrophobicity, and surface charges, varied dramatically in treated wastewater, though no universal trend was found for different strains. Retention in treated wastewater effluent resulted in changes in bacterial deposition in sand columns. Longer retention periods in treated wastewater decreased bacterial deposition rates for the strains evaluated and elevated the transport potential in sand columns. We suggest that the wastewater quality should be taken into account in estimating the fate of pathogenic bacteria discharged from wastewater treatment facilities and the risks they pose in the aquatic environment.