Short operating periods and problems with dewatering efficiency, vegetation, mineralisation and odour are primarily caused by incorrect construction of the filter, poor capillary connections, an inadequate number of basins, insufficient basin area and overloading during commissioning and during subsequent operation. Dimensioning should be based on the sludge quality including the dewatering qualities and not solely on calculations of the sludge production. Loading after planting depends on the development level of the vegetation. The loading program should ensure that reed establishment is not impeded and should prevent the sludge residue from growing so quickly horizontally and vertically that the reeds cannot colonise the sludge residue. Overloading results in an anaerobic sludge residue with ensuing methane production. Typically, a sludge reed bed facility with a loading period of maximum 5 days, must be built with 10 basins to permit a rest phase of about 40 days. Facilities with 8 basins, where it is possible to load 1 basin for 7 days, will be able to have a 7-week rest phase before the first basin is loaded again. Facilities with for example 8–13 basins and loading period of between 4 and 10 days are able to achieve rest periods of up to 2 to 2½ months, which results in the optimal evapotranspiration and minerilization. The conditions and thus the possibilities vary depending upon the type of sludge.

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