In several urban and suburban areas, the problem of the disposal and treatment of septic tank liquids has not been solved yet. This paper deals with the primary operational evaluation of a conventional system of ponds used at Tarariras, in the Department of Colonia, Uruguay, as well as the potential use of aquatic macrophytes to enhance such treatment. The conventional system was sampled over a period of approximately one month at the end of the summer in order to determine the main parameters. Groups of up to 20 samples were studied to determine the normal distributions. Correlation coefficients were obtained for the normal probability plot between 0.84 and 0.99. The most relevant statistical characteristics were calculated for each parameter. The removal efficiency was 80.0% of BOD5, 58.5% of COD, 75.8% of NH4+-N, 9.5% of PO4−3-P and 38.5% of TSS. At the same time, batch and semi-continuous trials were carried out at bench scale with Eichhornia crassipes (floating macrophyte) and Typha latifolia (emergent macrophyte). The best efficiencies were obtained for the latter, with values of 96.6% of BOD5, 93.0% of COD, 99.6% of NH4+-N, 95.2% of PO4−3-P and 95.5% of TSS. It was concluded that constructed wetlands could be the answer to a more complete treatment process.

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