The purification efficiency of vertical flow reed beds (VFB) is dependent on a very efficient soil aeration. In most systems this is achieved by intermittent pulse loading at the surface providing an oxygenation by mass flow and diffusion. These oxygen transportation mechanisms only function as long as the upper layers of the bed have a high drainage capacity. Purification efficiency drops significantly when constant ponding occurs.
A review of the literature on clogging in sand filters is given. In our evaluations the following observations are made. Clogging occurs only in the upper 0-15 cm of the bed. Clogging is dependent on the height of organic mass loading. The content of volatile solids in the upper layers could not be proven as a significant parameter influencing clogging. The infiltration rate can be restored by giving the beds a recovery period of several weeks. The required length of rest is dependent on weather conditions, winter is the most critical time.