Comparison of interannual removal variation of various constructed wetland types

Department of Biodiversity and Environmental Management, Faculty of Biologic and Environmental Sciences, University of León, Campus de Vegazana s/n, E-24071 León, Spain.
Science of The Total Environment (Impact Factor: 4.1). 05/2012; 430:174-83. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.04.072
Source: PubMed


Seven mesocosm-scale (1m(2)) constructed wetlands (CWs) of different configurations were operated outdoors for thirty-nine months under the same conditions to assess their ability to remove organic matter and nutrients from urban wastewaters. CWs differed in some design parameters, namely the presence of plants, the species chosen (i.e., Typha angustifolia or Phragmites australis), the flow configuration (i.e., surface flow or subsurface flow) and the presence/absence of a gravel bed. It was observed that, in general, removal efficiencies decreased with the aging of the system and that seasonality had a great influence on CWs. A comparison was made in order to figure out which kind of CW was more efficient for the removal of every pollutant in the long term. Planted systems were clearly better than unplanted systems even in winter. Efficiency differences among CWs were not extremely great, especially after a few years. However, some types of CWs were more adequate for the removal of certain pollutants. The effect of the aging on the main parameters involved in pollutant removal in CWs (temperature, pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen concentration and redox potential) was assessed. The efficiency of CWs should not be evaluated based on short monitoring periods (1-2 years) after the start-up of the systems, but on longer periods.

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    • "Wetlands can be used as a secondary or tertiary treatment step, following chemical and/or biological treatments, and rely upon natural processes in shallow water or temporarily flooded land that is able to support aquatic life [18]. These systems tend to be less resource-intensive than conventional wastewater treatment plants [5,18], and have been used successfully for treatment of municipal sewage in small communities, as well as for some industrial wastewaters [19]. While most research has focused on the use of wetlands for reduction of nutrients and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) in water bodies receiving runoff from agricultural or urban sources [6,20], recent studies have shown that these systems might remove PPCPs as well [1,6,18,21]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background The discharge of complex mixtures of nutrients, organic micropollutants, and antibiotic resistance genes from treated municipal wastewater into freshwater systems are global concerns for human health and aquatic organisms. Antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) are genes that have the ability to impart resistance to antibiotics and reduce the efficacy of antibiotics in the systems in which they are found. In the rural community of Grand Marais, Manitoba, Canada, wastewater is treated passively in a sewage lagoon prior to passage through a treatment wetland and subsequent release into surface waters. Using this facility as a model system for the Canadian Prairies, the two aims of this study were to assess: (a) the presence of nutrients, micropollutants (i.e., pesticides, pharmaceuticals), and ARGs in lagoon outputs, and (b) their potential removal by the treatment wetland prior to release to surface waters in 2012. Results As expected, concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus species were greatest in the lagoon and declined with movement through the wetland treatment system. Pharmaceutical and agricultural chemicals were detected at concentrations in the ng/L range. Concentrations of these compounds spiked downstream of the lagoon following discharge and attenuation was observed as the effluent migrated through the wetland system. Hazard quotients calculated for micropollutants of interest indicated minimal toxicological risk to aquatic biota, and results suggest that the wetland attenuated atrazine and carbamazepine significantly. There was no significant targeted removal of ARGs in the wetland and our data suggest that the bacterial population in this system may have genes imparting antibiotic resistance. Conclusions The results of this study indicate that while the treatment wetland may effectively attenuate excess nutrients and remove some micropollutants and bacteria, it does not specifically target ARGs for removal. Additional studies would be beneficial to determine whether upgrades to extend retention time or alter plant community structure within the wetland would optimize removal of micropollutants and ARGs to fully characterize the utility of these systems on the Canadian Prairies.
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