Evaluation of clogging in planted and unplanted horizontal subsurface flow constructed wetlands: solids accumulation and hydraulic conductivity reduction

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This study aimed to evaluate the behaviour of two horizontal subsurface flow constructed wetland units regarding solids build up and clogging of the filter medium. In order to analyse the causes of this process, which is considered the major operational problem of constructed wetlands, studies were carried out to characterize accumulated solids and hydraulic conductivity at specific points of the beds of two wetlands (planted with Typha latifolia and unplanted units) receiving effluent from an upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactor treating sanitary sewage (population equivalent of 50 inhabitants each unit). The experiments were performed after the units were operating for 2 years and 4 months. This study presents comparative results related to the quantification and characterization of accumulated solids and hydraulic conductivity along the length and width of the filter beds. Approximately 80% of the solids found were inorganic (fixed). Near the inlet end, the rate interstitial solids/attached solids was 5.0, while in the outlet end it was reduced to 1.5. Hydraulic conductivity was lower near the inlet of the units (as expected) and, by comparing the planted wetland with the unplanted, the hydraulic conductivity was lower in the former, resulting in larger undesired surface flow.

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