Two designs of experimental combined constructed wetland systems were constructed: vegetated (Scirpus grossus Linn) subsurface horizontal flow bed followed by a vegetated vertical flow bed and a vegetated vertical flow bed over an unvegetated horizontal flow sand bed. The systems were used to compare the nitrification/denitrification efficiency in a tropical climate which has temperatures above an average of 25°C throughout the year. The effluent from a biogas digester of pig farm wastewater with TKN and COD concentrations of approximately 400 and 1,000 mg/L was fed every 4 hours intermittently. The effluent was recycled to the system with the ratio of 1:1 and the hydraulic loading rate was increased from 3 to 6 and 12 cm/d including recycled water. At higher hydraulic loading rates, nitrogen COD and BOD removal efficiencies were lower. The SS, TP and fecal coliform bacteria removal efficiencies were not clearly affected by the high hydraulic loading or the different layout of the system. Nitrogen uptake by plants was very low in relation to the nitrogen loading of the systems. In general, the removal efficiencies of both types were comparable but the system with a vertical flow over horizontal flow sand bed is more suitable for sites with limited land area, although its construction can be more difficult than the system with horizontal flow followed by a vertical flow bed.

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