Review article

Application of constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment in tropical and subtropical regions (2000-2013)

Dong-Qing Zhang , K.B.S.N. Jinadasa , Richard M. Gersberg , Yu Liu , Soon Keat Tan , Wun Jern Ng


Received June 12, 2014,Revised October 17, 2014, Accepted , Available online April 23, 2015

Volume 27,2015,Pages 30-46

Constructed wetlands (CWs) have been successfully used for treating various wastewaters for decades and have been identified as a sustainable wastewater management option for developing countries. With the goal of promoting sustainable engineered systems that support human well-being but are also compatible with sustaining natural (environmental) systems, the application of CWs has become more relevant. Such application is especially significant for developing countries with tropical climates, which are very conducive to higher biological activity and productivity, resulting in higher treatment efficiencies compared to those in temperate climates. This paper therefore highlights the practice, applications, and research of treatment wetlands under tropical and subtropical conditions since 2000. In the present review, removal of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and total suspended solid (TSS) was shown to be very efficient and consistent across all types of treatment wetlands. Hybrid systems appeared more efficient in the removal of total suspended solid (TSS) (91.3%), chemical oxygen demand (COD) (84.3%), and nitrogen (i.e., 80.7% for ammonium (NH)4-N, 80.8% for nitrate (NO)3-N, and 75.4% for total nitrogen (TN)) as compared to other wetland systems. Vertical subsurface flow (VSSF) CWs removed TSS (84.9%), BOD (87.6%), and nitrogen (i.e., 66.2% for NH4-N, 73.3% for NO3-N, and 53.3% for TN) more efficiently than horizontal subsurface flow (HSSF) CWs, while HSSF CWs (69.8%) showed better total phosphorus (TP) removal compared to VSSF CWs (60.1%). Floating treatment wetlands (FTWs) showed comparable removal efficiencies for BOD (70.7%), NH4-N (63.6%), and TP (44.8%) to free water surface (FWS) CW systems.

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