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Constructed Wetlands (CWs)

Beat Stauffer, international seecon gmbh

Constructed Wetlands

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Disclaimer
The contents of the SSWM Toolbox reflect the opinions of the respective authors and not necessarily the official opinion of the funding or
supporting partner organisations.
Depending on the initial situations and respective local circumstances, there is no guarantee that single measures described in the toolbox
will make the local water and sanitation system more sustainable. The main aim of the SSWM Toolbox is to be a reference tool to provide
ideas for improving the local water and sanitation situation in a sustainable manner. Results depend largely on the respective situation and
the implementation and combination of the measures described. An in-depth analysis of respective advantages and disadvantages and the
suitability of the measure is necessary in every single case. We do not assume any responsibility for and make no warranty with respect to
the results that may be obtained from the use of the information provided.

Constructed Wetlands

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Contents
1. Concept
2. How can Constructed Wetlands optimise SSWM
3. Design Principles
4. Treatment Efficiency
5. Operation and Maintenance
6. Applicability
7. Pros and Cons
8. References

Constructed Wetlands

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1. Concept
Introduction
Treatment step of DEWATS systems
Secondary treatment facilities for household (blackwater or
greywater, brownwater) and/or municipal or biodegredable industrial
wastewater.
(HOFFMANN et al. 2010)

Tertiary treatment system for polishing (e.g. activated sludge,


trickling filter plants) before safety disposal or reuse.
Outflow of CW: groundwater recharge, fertigation, aquaculture
Types of constructed wetlands. They are classified according to the
water flow regime as:
Horizontal flow constructed wetlands
Vertical flow constructed wetlands
Free surface constructed wetlands
Combined flow regimes are so called hybrid constructed wetlands
and exploit the specific advantages of the different systems.
Constructed Wetlands

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2. How can Constructed Wetlands Optimise SSWM


Example 1: Onsite or Semi-centralised Treatment System

Low-flush
toilet,
shower,
kitchen sink,
etc.

Groundwater
recharge

Compost filter (above), septic tank, imhoff tank,


anaerobic baffled reactor (below), etc.
Horizontal (picture), vertical,
free surface or a combined
hybrid filter

Water for irrigation or


aquaculture, etc.

Source: UN-HABITAT (2008); STAUFFER (2012); MOREL & DIENER (2006); RUUESCH (2011); IPTRID (2008)

Constructed Wetlands

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2. How can Constructed Wetlands Optimise SSWM


Example 2: Hybrid CW for a Community
CWs can also act as a treatment system for a community up to 3400
people (e.g. Bayawan City):
Protecting coastal waters from pollution
Protect the health of local residents
Reuse of treated waste water for irrigation

Wastewater is collected in septic tanks and


transferred through a small bore sewer
system to the hybrid constructed wetland.
The treated water can be reused
(irrigation), one part is recirculated or it
could be disposed (optional).
Source: LIPKOW and MUENCH (2010)

Constructed Wetlands

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2. How can Constructed Wetlands Optimise SSWM


Example 3: Greywater Treatment in Urban Areas (Norway)
CWs can be embedded nicely in urban areas that greywater can be
reused for irrigation or recharge groundwater.

The latest generation of constructed wetlands for cold climate with integrated aerobic
biofilter in Norway.

Source: JENSSEN (n.y)

Constructed Wetlands

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2. How can Constructed Wetlands Optimise SSWM


Example 3: Greywater Treatment in Urban Areas (Norway)
Upper right: the wetland in
the foreground the biofilter
is underneath the
playground behind the
stonewall. Upper
Left: flowforms.
Lower left: the effluent is
exposed in a shallow pond
and can be discharged in a
local stream (lower right).

Source: JENSSEN (n.y)

Constructed Wetlands

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2. How can Constructed Wetlands Optimise SSWM


Example 4: Stormwater Wetlands (also called Wet Ponds or
Retention Ponds)

Adapted design for


stormwater management

Microbiological
breakdown of pollutants

Plant uptake (nutrients)

Retention, settling and


adsorption

Flood control

Aesthetic design for rural


areas (e.g. city parks)

Source: METROCOUNCIL (n.y.); COASTAL WATER WATCH (2010)

Constructed Wetlands

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3. Design Principals
Horizontal Flow (HF)

Large gravel and sand-filled channel, planted with aquatic


vegetation

Wastewater flows horizontally through the channel

Mainly anaerobic conditions

The filter material filters out particles and microorganisms degrade


organic matter

Constructed Wetlands

Source: MOREL and DIENER (2006)

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3. Design Principals
Vertical Flow (VF)

Gravel and sand filter, aquatic vegetation

Intermittent appliance (pump or syphon) of wastewater over the


whole filter surface higher O2 injection

Wastewater drains vertically through the filter layers towards a


drainage system at the bottom

Source: HOFFMANN et al. (2010)

Source: MOREL and DIENER (2006)

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3. Design Principals
Free Water Surface Flow (FWS)

Flooded and planted channels

Imitate the naturally occurring processes of a natural wetland,


marsh or swamp
Water slowly flows through the wetland (on the surface), particles
settle, pathogens are destroyed, and organisms and plants utilise
the nutrients

(TILLEY et al. 2008)

Source: TILLEY et al (2008)

Constructed Wetlands

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3. Design Principals
Hybrid Flow

Combined CWs, sequentially arranged (usually VF and HF)

HF provide denitrification, VF nitrification

Obviously the advantages of both systems can be combined

Prototype of an integrated blackwater system (hybrid CW): UASB, followed by a vertical and then a
horizontal flow wetland).
Source: UPC (n.y.)

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4. Treatment Efficiency
Pollution Removal
Horizontal CW

High reduction in BOD, suspended solids


and pathogens. Provides mainly
denitrification. (TILLEY et al. 2008)

Vertical CW

High reduction in BOD, suspended solids


and pathogens. Provides mainly
nitrification.

Free-Surface CW

High removals of suspended solids


Moderate removal of pathogens, nutrients
and other pollutants such as heavy
metals (TILLEY et al. 2008)

Hybrid CW

Increased performance due to a


combination of different methods (e.g. VF
HF)

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4. Treatment Efficiency
Health Aspect

A CW system provides an adequate handling of wastewater and


minimises health risks caused by pathogens and avoids
contamination of the environment by untreated wastewater.

High risk of infection if contact with the liquid filter influent or the
settled sludge in the pre-treatment facility

Low risk of mosquito breeding (could be a problem of free-surface


CW due to open water surface)

Settled sludge must be disposed safe and correctly

Correct handling of treated water if used for irrigation

Constructed Wetlands

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5. Operation and Maintenance

CWs constantly require basic


maintenance throughout the duration
of its life but its relatively simple (no
high-tech appliances or chemical
additives).
It is important to ensure that primary
treatment effectively lowers organics
and solids concentrations.
(GAUSS 2008)

(TILLEY et al. 2008)

The pre-treatment facility (e.g.


septic tank) should be emptied
periodically and sludge discharged in
a safe way properly (see photo ABR
in Pune, India).
Filter material has to be replaced
every 8 to 15 years.
(TILLEY et al. 2008)

Constructed Wetlands

Source: SPUHLER (2010)

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6. Applicability
Secondary or tertiary treatment process for black, brown and
greywater
Adequate strategy if land is no limiting factor (space and costs)
Constructed wetlands are natural systems and do not require
electrical energy (unless for pumps) or chemicals
Best suited for warm climates, but can be designed to tolerate
freezing periods
CWs can be combined with many other techniques such as
aquaculture, irrigation and several pre-treatment options.

Constructed Wetlands

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7. Pros and Cons


Advantages:
Simple O&M due to high
process stability
No chemicals required
Can be built and repaired with
locally available materials
Utilisation of natural
processes
Efficient removal of
suspended and dissolved
organic matter, nutrients and
pathogens

Constructed Wetlands

Disadvantages:
Permanent land required
Requires expert design and
supervision
Moderate capital cost
depending on land, liner, fill,
etc.; low operating costs
Pre-treatment is required to
prevent clogging
Low tolerance to durable cold
climates
Electricity may be required

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8. References
COASTAL WATER WATCH (Editor) (2010): Rain Garden and Ponds. URL: http://www.coastalwaterwatch.com/product2121.htm [Accessed: 21.02.2012]
GAUSS, M.; WSP (Editor) (2008): Constructed Wetlands: A Promising Wastewater Treatment system for Small Localities. Experiences from Latin America.
Washington D.C.: The World Bank. URL: http://www.wsp.org/wsp/sites/wsp.org/files/publications/ConstructedWetlands.pdf [Accessed: 12.12.2011]
HOFFMANN, H.; PLATZER, C.; WINKER, M.; MUENCH, E., v.; GTZ (Editor) (2011): Technology Review of Constructed Wetlands. Subsurface Flow Constructed
Wetlands for Greywater and Domestic Wastewater Treatment. Eschborn: Deutsche Gesellschaft fr Technische Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GTZ) Sustainable
sanitation - ecosan program. URL: http://www.gtz.de/en/dokumente/giz2011-en-technology-review-constructed-wetlands.pdf [Accessed: 14.11.2011]
IPTRID (Editor) (2008): Grid IPTRID Network Magazine. February 2008. Rome: International Programme for Technology and Research in Irrigation and Drainage
(IPTRID). URL: http://www.fao.org/landandwater/iptrid/docs/GRID28eng.pdf [Accessed: 27.06.2011]
JENSSEN, P. (n.y.): Decentralized Urban Greywater Treatment at Klosterenga Oslo. In: Ecological Engineering-Bridging between Ecology and Civil Engineering,
84-86. URL: http://www.umb.no/statisk/ecosan/publications/Klosterenga.pdf [Accessed: 21.02.2012].
LIPKOW, U.; MUENCH, E. von (2010): Constructed Wetland for a Peri-urban Housing Area Bayawan City, Philippines. Eschborn: Sustainable Sanitation Alliance
(SuSanA). URL: http://www.susana.org/docs_ccbk/susana_download/2-51-en-susana-cs-philippines-bayawan-constr-wetlands-2009.pdf [Accessed: 10.01.2011]
METROCOUNCIL (n.y.): Constructed Wetlands: Stormwater Wetlands. Saint Paul: Metropolitan Council. URL:
http://www.metrocouncil.org/environment/water/bmp/CH3_STConstWLSwWetland.pdf [Accessed: 21.02.2012]
MOREL, A.; DIENER, S. (2006): Greywater Management in Low and Middle-Income Countries, Review of different treatment systems for households or
neighbourhoods. Duebendorf: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science (EAWAG), Department of Water and Sanitation in Developing Countries (SANDEC). URL:
http://www.eawag.ch/forschung/sandec/publikationen/ewm/dl/Morel_Diener_Greywater_2006.pdf [Accessed: 19.05.2010]
TILLEY, E.; LUETHY, C.; MOREL, A.; ZURBRUEGG, C.; SCHERTENLEIB, R. (2008): Compendium of Sanitation Systems and Technologies. Duebendorf and Geneva:
Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (EAWAG). URL: http://www.eawag.ch/forschung/sandec/publikationen/index [Accessed: 15.02.2010]
UN-HABITAT (Editor) (2008): Constructed Wetlands Manual. Kathmandu: UN-HABITAT, Water for Asian Cities Program. URL:
http://www.un.org.np/sites/default/files/CWManual.pdf [Accessed: 15.02.2012]
UPC (n.y.): Prototype of an Integrated Blackwater System. Barcelona: Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya.
VYMAZAL, J. (2005): Horizontal Sub-Surface Flow and Hybrid Constructed Wetlands Systems for Wastewater Treatment. Durham: Duke University Wetland
Center. URL: http://www.uvm.edu/~atuttle/john%20todd%20copy/zanzibar/HSF%20and%20hybrid%20CW%20for%20WW%20treatment%20Vymazal.pdf
[Accessed: 22.08.2011]

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