Comparison of vertical and horizontal flow planted and unplanted subsurface flow wetlands treating municipal wastewater

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In the search for design criteria for constructed wetlands (CWs) in Nepal a semi-scale experimental setup including horizontal flow (HF) and vertical flow (VF) CWs was developed. This paper compares the performance of HF and VF wetlands, and planted with unplanted beds. The experimental setup consists of two units of HF and VF beds of size 6 m × 2 m × 0.6 m and 6 m × 2 m × 0.8 m (length × width × depth) respectively. For both HF and VF systems, one unit was planted with Phragmites karka (local reed) and one was not planted. The systems were fed with wastewater drawn from the grit chamber of a municipal wastewater treatment plant. The media consisted of river gravel. In the first phase of the experiment the hydraulic loading rate (HLR) was varied in steps; 0.2, 0.08, 0.04 m3/m2/d and the percent removal increase with decrease in HLR for all beds and parameters except for total phosphorus. In the second phase the loading rate of 0.04 m3/m2/d was run for 7 months. In both parts of the experiment the planted beds performed better than the unplanted beds and the VF better than the HF beds. To meet Nepalese discharge standards HF beds are sufficient, but to meet stricter requirements a combination of HF and VF beds are recommended.

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