IWA Publishing

Difficulties and modifications in the use of available methods for hydraulic conductivity measurements in highly clogged horizontal subsurface flow constructed wetlands

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Despite the fact that several authors consider the available measurement methods of hydraulic conductivity (ks) suitable for a good representation of the bed condition and clogging potential in horizontal subsurface flow constructed wetlands, others have questioned their adequacy. In this work, hydraulic conductivity measurements with conventional and modified methods were undertaken in two small full-scale units, one planted with cattail (Typha latifolia) and the other unplanted. Both units had already been operating for seven years and showed a high degree of clogging. It was observed that the use of the falling head method, with the introduction of the tubes during the test, provided results without a clear spatial trend. On the other hand, tests done on monitoring wells inserted during construction time showed, as expected, ks increasing with the horizontal distance from the inlet, but without reflecting actual field conditions. It was observed that, as the bed became more clogged, the use of the reported methods became more complex, suggesting the need of other methodologies. The use of planted fixed reactors (removable baskets installed in the bed) with evaluation of ks at constant head in the laboratory showed potential for the characterization of the hydrodynamic properties of the porous medium.

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