This article analyses the performance of 166 wastewater treatment plants operating in Brazil, comprising six different treatment processes: septic tank + anaerobic filter, facultative pond, anaerobic pond + facultative pond, activated sludge, UASB reactors alone, UASB reactors followed by post-treatment. The study evaluates and compares the observed effluent quality and the removal efficiencies in terms of BOD, COD, TSS, TN, TP and FC with typical values reported in the technical literature. In view of the large performance variability observed, the existence of a relationship between design/operational parameters and treatment performance was investigated. From the results obtained, no consistent relationship between loading rates and effluent quality was found. The influence of loading rates differed from plant to plant, and the effluent quality was dictated by several combined factors related to design and operation.
Keywords: developing countries, effluent quality, performance evaluation, wastewater treatment