This paper describes the performance of reedbeds using plastic (PET) bottle segments as an alternative low-cost media for the treatment of domestic greywater in Monteverde, Costa Rica, Central America. Twelve reedbeds consisting of four sets of triplicates were monitored through wet and dry seasons in order to determine the effect of media type (PET versus crushed rock) and the effect of plants. In both seasons, performance of the planted reedbeds with PET media, for BOD and fecal coliform removal, was either comparable to, or better than, that of the crushed rock systems. The planted PET reedbeds achieved fecal coliform removal rates >99.9% in all cases equating to reductions of between 3 and nearly 5 log, with an average BOD outflow of 12.9 mg/L over both seasons. The hydraulic loading rate varied between 1.33 and 2.67 cm/day and hydraulic retention times (HRT) ranged from 3.5 to 7.5 days. The six reedbeds planted with Coix lacryma-jobi proved to be significantly more effective in pathogen removal and BOD reduction than the unplanted reedbeds. The planted PET reedbeds also increased their biomass by twice that of the planted crushed rock reedbeds during the study period. The majority of this increase was shown to be due to root growth. This paper discusses the implications of the above results for developing countries and identifies potential areas for further research.

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