This article presents a reliability analysis of 116 full-scale pond systems in Brazil, comprising 73 primary facultative ponds and 43 anaerobic–facultative pond systems. A methodology developed by Niku et al. (1979) is used for the determination of the coefficients of reliability, in terms of the compliance of effluent BOD, COD, TSS and FC to discharge standards or effluent quality targets. The design concentrations necessary to meet the prevailing discharge standards and the expected compliance percentages have been calculated from the coefficients of reliability obtained. The results showed that few units, under the observed operating conditions, would be able to present reliable performances in terms of compliance with the analyzed standards. For the four constituents (BOD, COD, TSS and FC) and both systems (facultative ponds and anaerobic-facultative systems), the variability of the effluent quality was very large, leading to a high variability of the coefficient of variation (CV) and the coefficient of reliability (COR). The effluent quality from the facultative ponds showed a larger distance to both the desired values and the discharge standard values, compared with the anaerobic–facultative systems.

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