The aim of the present study was to evaluate the behaviour of vertical flow constructed wetlands to treat high strength wastewater. Influents were obtained mixing tap water with different percentages of MSW landfill leachate (5%, 10% and 20%). Phragmites australis seedlings were used as macrophytes. The reeds were nurtured during three spring months, before the start of the experimental period. Three and four days of detention time were adopted. Influent concentrations of 510–2,050 mg L−1, 180–740 mg L−1 and 65–260 mg L−1 were obtained for COD, N–NH4+ and N–NO3, respectively. The environmental temperature averaged around 31.0±1.4 °C. During the experimental period, all parameters showed an increasing removal efficiency trend. Best results in terms of COD removal were obtained for mixtures at lowest rate of landfill leachate; while, denitrification process showed an opposite behaviour; finally, the removal of ammonia nitrogen appeared to be independent upon influent concentrations. Analysis carried out on the reed tissues showed a theoretic maximum storage of TKN in the leaves of about 55 mg/g dry weight. A leachate percentage of about 35% was derived to be able to fully inhibit the growth of macrophytes.

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