An evaluation of the 24 existing pond systems for treatment of urban wastewater in Catalonia (north-eastern Spain) was conducted in 1997-1998. The evaluation covered 13 aerated ponds, 7 waste stabilization ponds (WSP), and 4 maturation ponds added to conventional biological wastewater treatment plants (WWTP). The technical characteristics of the pond systems were obtained through a survey completed during several visits to the plants. Performance data was supplied by the Catalonia Wastewater Agency and the monthly monitoring campaigns conducted during 12 months in five WWTP. The average ratio of water surface to population equivalent (p-e) is 1.3 m2/p-e for aerated ponds, 9.6 m2/p-e for WSP and 1.7 m2/p-e for maturation ponds added to conventional WWTP. Average electrical energy consumption is 0.5 kW.h/m3 for aerated ponds and 0.04 kW.h/m3 for WSP (when wastewater has to be pumped from the sewer). Most of the WSP show an inadequate level O & M, because the very limited operator attendance (0.6 h/dayon average) as compared to aerated ponds (3.2 h/day on average). Effluent quality of aerated ponds (31 mg SS/l and 22 mg BOD5/l, on average) is usually better that of WSP (100 mg SS/l and 67 mg BOD5/l, on average). Most of the WSP are overloaded, with only two of the pond systems receiving less than 50 kg BOD5/ha. Facultative WSP show a better performance than anaerobic WSP; anaerobic WSP have very high overloading conditions (with more than 250 kg BOD5/ha.d). Average effluent quality of all the pond systems studied comply with European Union standards.

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