Heavy metals, zinc (Zn), copper (Cu) and lead (Pb) removal in two wastewater treatment units were compared. One of the systems consisted of a train of Waste Stabilisation Ponds (WSP) including one anaerobic, three facultative in series and two maturation ponds, also in series. The other system, called High Rate Ponds (HRP) consisted of one anaerobic, one High Rate Algal Pond (HRAP) and two maturation ponds in series. The two treatment systems were located on the same site and received the same wastewater. Data collected from the two treatment systems, for a period of three consecutive months (May, June and July, 1995) show that the content of the three elements in the crude wastewater of the city of Ouarzazate varied from 210 to 340 mg/l for Zn; 35 to 55 for Cu and 30 to 25 for Pb. The removal rate for the three elements reached 91, 92 and 71% respectively for Zn, Cu and Pb in the WSP train. The corresponding values in the HRP train were, respectively 89, 88 and 51%. However, since the two trainswere not receiving the same flow, the use of specific removal rate expressed as mg removed m-2 d-1 showed that the HRAP was 1.3, 10 and 2 times more efficient respectively for Zn, Cu and Pb removal than the three facultative ponds in series of the WSP. Also, the collected data showed that the content of the sediment of the anaerobic pond was high for all the three elements. However, the recorded concentrations 613, 99 and 78 mg/kg, respectively for Zn, Cu and Pb did not exceed the EEC recommended limits.

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