Experiences with pre-precipitation of phosphorus in a vertical flow constructed wetland in Austria

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Using constructed wetlands (CWs) with vertical flow and intermittent loading, high organic matter and ammonium removal can be achieved. In the case of additional requirements for phosphorus removal, which in Austria often occurs if the treated wastewater is discharged into small sensitive receiving waters, additional measures have to be taken. The objective of this work was to investigate the applicability of conventional phosphorus pre-precipitation with sodium aluminate for a CW system. The experiment was carried out at a full-scale CW in Oberwindhag in Lower Austria, a two-stage vertical flow CW with intermittent loading designed for a size of 60 person equivalents (PE). The goal was to reach the required value of 1.6 mg/L PO4-P for the effluent of the system. Prior to the experiments the plant was in operation for 3 years without measures for phosphorus removal. After pre-precipitation with sodium aluminate was activated, three different dosages were investigated. Satisfying results in the preliminary treatment chambers were not obtained until a high dosage (ß = 3.5, i.e. 3.5 times the dose required from stoichiometry) was applied. After an adaptation time of several months the required effluent concentration of 1.6 mg PO4-P/L could be reached and maintained. However, the additional phosphorus pre-precipitation increases the yearly operating costs of a vertical flow CW system significantly, e.g. for 60 and 25 PE, by 15 and 38%, respectively, thus indicating the need for optimizing the dosing of the chemical.

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