Constructed wetlands (CWs) are known to be robust wastewater treatment systems and are therefore very suitable for small villages and single households. When nitrification is required, vertical flow (VF) CWs are widely used. This contribution compares the behaviour and treatment efficiencies of a single-stage VF CW and a two-stage VF CW system under varying operating and loading conditions according to standardized testing procedures for small wastewater treatment plants as described in the European standard EN 12566-3. The single-stage VF CW is designed and operated according to the Austrian design standards with an organic load of 20 g COD m−2 d−1 (i.e. 4 m2 per person equivalent (PE)) The two-stage VF CW system is operated with 40 g COD m−2 d−1 (i.e. 2 m2 per PE). During the 48 week testing period the Austrian threshold effluent concentrations have not been exceeded in either system. The two-stage VF CW system showed to be more robust as compared to the single-stage VF CW especially during highly fluctuating loads at low temperatures.
Keywords: 2-stage system, constructed wetland, standardized testing procedure, vertical flow