Treatment performances of French constructed wetlands: results from a database collected over the last 30 years

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Approximately 3,500 constructed wetlands (CWs) provide raw wastewater treatment in France for small communities (<5,000 people equivalent). Built during the past 30 years, most consist of two vertical flow constructed wetlands (VFCWs) in series (stages). Many configurations exist, with systems associated with horizontal flow filters or waste stabilization ponds, vertical flow with recirculation, partially saturated systems, etc. A database analyzed 10 years earlier on the classical French system summarized the global performances data. This paper provides a similar analysis of performance data from 415 full-scale two-stage VFCWs from an improved database expanded by monitoring data available from Irstea and the French technical department. Trends presented in the first study are confirmed, exhibiting high chemical oxygen demand (COD), total suspended solids (TSS) and total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN) removal rates (87%, 93% and 84%, respectively). Typical concentrations at the second-stage outlet are 74 mgCOD L−1, 17 mgTSS L−1 and 11 mgTKN L−1. Pollutant removal performances are summarized in relation to the loads applied at the first treatment stage. While COD and TSS removal rates remain stable over the range of applied loads, the spreading of TKN removal rates increases as applied loads increase.

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