Experiences from the full-scale implementation of a new two-stage vertical flow constructed wetland design

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This paper describes the results of the first full-scale implementation of a two-stage vertical flow constructed wetland (CW) system developed to increase nitrogen removal. The full-scale system was constructed for the Bärenkogelhaus, which is located in Styria at the top of a mountain, 1,168 m above sea level. The Bärenkogelhaus has a restaurant with 70 seats, 16 rooms for overnight guests and is a popular site for day visits, especially during weekends and public holidays. The CW treatment system was designed for a hydraulic load of 2,500 L.d−1 with a specific surface area requirement of 2.7 m2 per person equivalent (PE). It was built in fall 2009 and started operation in April 2010 when the restaurant was re-opened. Samples were taken between July 2010 and June 2013 and were analysed in the laboratory of the Institute of Sanitary Engineering at BOKU University using standard methods. During 2010 the restaurant at Bärenkogelhaus was open 5 days a week whereas from 2011 the Bärenkogelhaus was open only on demand for events. This resulted in decreased organic loads of the system in the later period. In general, the measured effluent concentrations were low and the removal efficiencies high. During the whole period the ammonia nitrogen effluent concentration was below 1 mg/L even at effluent water temperatures below 3 °C. Investigations during high-load periods, i.e. events like weddings and festivals at weekends, with more than 100 visitors, showed a very robust treatment performance of the two-stage CW system. Effluent concentrations of chemical oxygen demand and NH4-N were not affected by these events with high hydraulic loads.

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