Wetlands are being considered increasingly important for wastewater treatment because of the ability of many wetland plants to absorb large amounts of nutrient and a variety of toxic substances. The paper highlights the physical, chemical and biological processes which contribute to the improvement of water quality, and the distinction between natural and constructed wetlands. The impacts of long-term wastewater disposal on the biotic changes, reduction in treatment efficiency, and wetland processes such as production of trace gases, are pointed out. Constraints in using wetlands, for wastewater treatment, such as poor understanding of the natural wetland functions and responses of native plants and animals to wastewater, particularly in developing countries, are briefly discussed. It is suggested that while the possibilities for using constructed wetlands based on native species for small communities are explored, greater emphasis should be laid on the restoration of lost and degraded wetlands, especially the river floodplains, lake littorals and coastal wetlands, which can help check pollution from non-point sources.

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