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

J. A. Vidales-Contreras, C. P. Gerba, M. M. Karpisack, H. Rodríguez-Fuentes, C. Chaidez-Quiroz, E. Olivares-Sáenz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The performance of a surface flow wetland system 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 system which consists 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 1.9 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 bacteria populations or recovering of injured bacteria may occur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-384
Number of pages10
JournalTropical and Subtropical Agroecosystems
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2011


  • BOD5
  • Backwash water
  • Constructed wetlands
  • Microbial indicators
  • TSS
  • Wastewater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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