Environmental impact of irrigation with greywater treated by recirculating vertical flow constructed wetlands in two climatic regions

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Reuse of greywater (GW) has raised environmental and public health concerns. Specifically, these concerns relate to onsite treatment operated by non-professionals; systems must therefore be reliable, simple to use and also economically feasible if they are to be widely used. The aims of this study were to: (a) investigate GW treatment efficiency using 20 full-scale recirculating vertical flow constructed wetlands (RVFCWs) operated in households in arid and Mediterranean regions; and (b) study the long-term effects of irrigation with treated GW on soil properties. RVFCW systems were installed and monitored routinely over 3 years. Raw, treated and disinfected treated GW samples were analyzed for various physicochemical and microbial parameters. Native soil plots and nearby freshwater (FW) and treated GW irrigated soil plots were sampled twice a year – at the end of the winter and at the end of the summer. Soil samples were analyzed for various physicochemical and microbial parameters. Overall, the RVFCW proved to be a robust and reliable GW treatment system. The treated GW quality met strict Israeli regulations for urban irrigation. Results also suggest that irrigation with sufficiently treated GW has no adverse effects on soil properties. Yet, continued monitoring to follow longer term trends is recommended.

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