Design, construction and performance of a horizontal subsurface flow wetland system in Australia

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Malabugilmah is a remote Aboriginal community located in Clarence Valley, Northern NSW, Australia. In 2006, seven horizontal subsurface flow wetland clusters consisting of 3 m × 2 m wetland cells in series were designed and constructed to treat septic tank effluent to a secondary level (Total Suspended Solids (TSS) < 30 mg/L and Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD5) <20 mg/L) and achieve >50% Total Nitrogen (TN) reduction, no net Total Phosphorus (TP) export and ≥99.9% Faecal Coliform (FC) reduction. The wetland cell configuration allowed the wetlands to be located on steeper terrain, enabling effluent to be treated to a secondary level without the use of pumps. In addition to the water quality targets, the wetlands were designed and constructed to satisfy environmental, economic and social needs of the community. The wetland systems were planted with a local Australian wetland tree species which has become well established. Two wetland clusters have been monitored over the last 4 years. The wetlands have demonstrated to be robust over time, providing a high level of secondary treatment over an extended period.

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