When domestic wastewater was treated with different onsite applications of buried sand filters and sequencing batch reactors, good organic matter removal was common and effluent BOD7 concentrations from 5 to 20 mg/l were easily achievable. For total nitrogen, effluent concentrations were usually between 20 and 80 mg/l. Good phosphorus removal, even using special adsorption or precipitation materials, was difficult to achieve and large variations occurred. The median effluent concentration of total phosphorus in the most successful sand filter application was less than 0.1 mg/l and other sand filters and SBRs had the median concentrations varying from 1.7 to 6.7 mg/l. These results are based on one year in situ monitoring of 2 conventional buried sand filters, 6 sand filter applications with special phosphorus adsorbing media within the filter bed, 5 sand filters with separate tertiary phosphorus filtration and 11 small SBRs of three different types. The study was carried out in southern Finland during 2003–05. The whole project included monitoring of more than 60 plants of 20 different treatment types or methods, used in normal conditions to treat domestic wastewater. Evaluation of the different systems was made by comparing the measured effluent concentrations. In addition the effluent concentrations were compared to the discharge limits calculated according to the new Finnish regulation.

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