Performance of a surface flow constructed wetland system used to treat secondary effluent and filter backwash water

Juan A. Vidales-Contreras, Charles P. Gerba, Martin M. Karpiscak, Humberto Rodríguez Fuentes, Jesus Jaime Hernandez Escareño, Cristobal Chaidez-Quiroz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The performance of a surface flow wetland used to treat activated sludge effluent and filter backwash water from a tertiary treatment facility was evaluated. Samples were collected before and after vegetation removal from the wetland system, which consisted of two densely vegetated settling basins (0.35 ha), an artificial stream and a 3-ha surface flow wetland. Bulrush (Scripus spp.) and cattail (Typha domingensis) were the dominant plant species. The average inflow of chlorinated secondary effluent during the first two months of the actual study was 1.84 m3 min-1, while the inflow for backwash water treatment ranged from 0.21 to 0.42 m3 min-1. The system was able to reduce TSS and BOD5 to tertiary effluent standards; however, monitoring of chloride concentrations revealed that wetland evapotranspiration is probably enriching pollutant concentrations in the wetland outflow. Coliphage removal from the filter backwash was 97 and 35% during 1999 and 2000, respectively. However, when secondary effluent entered the system, coliphage removal averaged 65%. After vegetation removal, pH and coliphage density increased significantly (p<0.05) at the outlet of the wetland. This study showed that surface flow wetlands are an alternative technology for TSS, BOD5 and turbidity removal from both secondary or backwash water. However, growth of bacterial populations or recovery of injured bacteria may occur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)821-827
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Agriculture and Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2010


  • BOD
  • Backwash water
  • Secondary effluent
  • TSS
  • Turbidity
  • Wetlands

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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