Four different pilot-scale treatment units were constructed to compare the feasibility of treating domestic wastewater in the City of Heraklio, Crete, Greece: (a) a freewater surface (FWS) wetland system, (b) a horizontal subsurface flow (HSF) wetland system, (c) a rotating biological contactor (RBC), and (d) a packed bed filter (PBF). All units operated in parallel at various hydraulic loading rates (HLR) ranging from 50% to 175% of designed operating HLR. The study was conducted during an 8 month period and showed that COD removal efficiency of HSFwas comparable (N75%) to that of RBC and PBF, whereas that of the FWS systemwas only 57%. Average nutrient removal efficiencies for FWS, HSF, RBC and PBF were 6%, 21%, 40% and 43%, respectively for total nitrogen and 21%, 39%, 41% and 42%, respectively for total phosphorus. Removals of total coliforms were lowest in FWS and PBF (1.3 log units) and higher in HSF and RBC (2.3 to 2.6 log units). HSF showed slightly lower but comparable effluent quality to that of RBC and PBF systems, but the construction cost and energy requirements for this system are significantly lower. Overall the final decision for the best non-conventional wastewater treatment system depends on the construction and operation cost, the area demand and the required quality of effluent.
Science of the Total Environment, 2009, Vol 407, Issue 8, p. 2996-3003