Performance of three pilot-scale hybrid constructed wetlands for total coliforms and Escherichia coli removal from primary effluent – a 2-year study in a subtropical climate

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Three pilot-scale two-stage hybrid constructed wetlands were evaluated in order to compare their efficiency for total coliforms (TCol) and Escherichia coli removal and to analyze their performances in two 1-year periods of experimentation. System I consisted of a horizontal flow (HF) constructed wetland (CW) followed by a stabilization pond. System II was also configured with a HF CW as a first stage which was then followed by a vertical flow (VF) CW as a second stage. System III was configured with a VF CW followed by a HF CW. In the first year of evaluation, the HF–VF system was the most effective for TCol removal (p < 0.05) and achieved a reduction of 2.2 log units. With regard to E. coli removal, the HF–VF and VF–HF systems were the most effective (p < 0.05) with average reductions of 3.2 and 3.8 log units, respectively. In the second year, the most effective were those with a VF component for both TCol and E. coli which underwent average reductions of 2.34–2.44 and 3.44–3.74 log units, respectively. The reduction achieved in E. coli densities, in both years, satisfy the World Health Organization guidelines that require a 3–4 log unit pathogen reduction in wastewater treatment systems.

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