This papers describes the behaviour of wetlands as a post-treatment unit for anaerobically treated sewage for the removal of organic matter, suspended solids, nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) and faecal coliforms. Raw sewage was treated in a UASB reactor with a retention time of 5 h and the effluent was used in four units of wetlands with coarse sand as the medium and operated with different hydraulic loads. Three of the units had emerging macrophytes (Juncus sp), whereas the fourth one was operated as a control unit without plants.
During the 12 months of operation, the organic material removal efficiency (measured as COD) was in the range of 79 to 85%, whereas suspended solids removal varied from 48 to 71%. Faecal coliform removal was very high (99,99%); phosphorus was also efficiently removed (average efficiency of 90% for the lowest hydraulic load), but nitrogen removal was only partial (45 to 70% for ammonia and 47 to 70% for TKN). The experimental results clearly show the technical feasibility of using wetlands for treatment of municipal sewage after a pre-treatment in the UASB reactor.