IWA Publishing

Reliability of on-site greywater treatment systems in Mediterranean and arid environments – a case study

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

On-site greywater (GW) treatment and reuse is gaining popularity. However, a main point of concern is that inadequate treatment of such water may lead to negative environmental and health effects. Maintenance of single-family home GW systems is usually performed by home owners with limited professional support. Therefore, unless GW systems are reliable, environmental and public health might be compromised. This study is aimed at investigating the reliability of on-site recirculated vertical flow constructed wetlands (RVFCW) in 20 single-family homes. In order to ensure reliability, the failure-tree approach was adopted during the design and construction of the systems. The performance of the systems was monitored for 1.5 years, by evaluating treated GW flow and quality, and by recording all malfunctions and maintenance work. Only 39 failures occurred during this period, of which four caused irrigation with impaired quality GW, while the rest led to no irrigation. The mean time between failures (MTBF) was 305 days; two out of the 20 systems suffered from seven malfunctions (each), while nine systems did not fail at all. Thus, it can be postulated that if on-site GW treatment systems are designed with the right controls, and if scheduled (basic and relatively infrequent) maintenance is performed, GW reuse can be safe to the environment and human health.

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