The evaluation of centralised wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in planning and management is sometimes based solely on effluent pollutant concentrations or pollutant loads. For sanitation purposes, the effluent pollutant concentrations/loads of WWTPs are important; of course, but from the point of view of wastewater treatment, the pollutant removal performance should also be evaluated. Focussing on low- and middle-income countries, especially those in tropical regions, published kinetics studies on biological WWTPs (such as oxidation ditches and aerated lagoons) are summarised in this paper. In most studies, effluent pollutant concentrations/loads are described as first-order linear functions of influent pollutant concentrations/loads. Therefore, pollutant removal efficiencies can be expressed as first-order linear functions of the reciprocal of influent pollutant concentrations/loads with negative coefficients. This implies that pollutant removal efficiencies increase with influent pollutant concentration/load increases. Based on pollutant removal efficiency functions, biological or ecological WWTPs when operating with small influent pollutant concentrations/loads should change their management to increase influent pollutant concentrations/loads in order to increase pollutant removal efficiencies. It may, however, be possible for technological development in wastewater treatment to overcome this problem.
Keywords: ecological wastewater treatment, influent and effluent pollutant concentration, influent and effluent pollutant load, removal efficiency (removal ratio)