This paper reports on findings of a study on the performance of two units of a Horizontal Sub-Surface Flow Constructed Wetland (HSSFCW) units in treating wastewater effluent from a tannery industry. One of the HSSFCW units was planted with macrophytes, while the other was used as a control (without plants). Wastewater was fed into the wetland units at the mean flow rate of 0.045±0.005 m3/day. The studied parameters were chromium, turbidity, salinity, Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), Electric Conductivity (EC), pH and temperature. The mean Hydraulic Retention Time (HRT) was 1.60 days (in the control) and 1.80 days (in the vegetated) units, obtained as a ratio of the volume of the wastewater and the volumetric flow rate of wastewater through the units while taking into consideration the porosity of the media. The vegetated HSSFCW exhibited higher chromium removal efficiency (99.83%), than the control unit with the removal efficiency of 92.53%. High chromium removal was associated with both high temperature as well as high pH values in the HSSFCW units. The reduction in turbidity was found to be 71% in the vegetated wetland unit while the corresponding value for the control unit was 66%. Results obtained indicated low reduction efficiencies of both EC (0.3% in the vegetated unit and 1.6% in the control unit) and salinity (11% in the vegetated unit and 22% in the control unit) in the two mesocosms. Generally, however, the study demonstrated that constructed wetlands can be used as an option for improving the quality of tannery effluents especially in the removal of chromium. Chromium removal might have been effected by, among others, gravitational settling of solids and formation of co-precipitation with insoluble compounds as well as adsorption on the substrates and plant surfaces.
Keywords: chromium removal, constructed wetland, tannery industry, wastewater treatment