This article presents results from a performance evaluation of 73 full-scale primary facultative ponds and 37 secondary facultative ponds in Brazil. The data were used to test the applicability of some classical design equations for recommended surface BOD loading rates. The empirical equations proposed by Mara in 1976 and 1987 and the equation developed by McGarry and Pescod in 1970 were evaluated. The loading and hydraulic operating conditions were also evaluated to support the analysis of the influence of the parameters surface BOD loading (Ls) and hydraulic retention time (HRT) on the performance of the ponds. The results showed that the design equations proposed by Mara showed good applicability for primary facultative ponds, representing good indicators of the limit value of loading rates to be applied on the units. But the secondary facultative ponds showed good and poor performances for all loading rates and the best ponds, in general, were not those which followed the design equations recommendation. Finally, the influence of the actual loading conditions on the ponds performance was very small and scattered, indicating that other unquantified design and operational aspects were playing an important role.
Keywords: effluent quality, performance evaluation, primary and secondary facultative ponds