The current best option to upgrade constructed wetlands (CWs) for phosphorus (P) retention, in terms of efficiency, cost and simplicity, consists in using media having a strong P affinity. The media can be used either in the planted beds or in a filtration system downstream of the beds. The use of slag filters was shown to be efficient for removing P from wastewater as it represented a slow release source of calcium and hydroxide, favouring the formation of hydroxyapatite. Our study aimed at maximising the P retention capacity of slag filters located at the outlet of CWs since electric arc furnace slag has been shown to inhibit the growth of macrophytes when used in the filtration matrix. Bench-scale columns (Vtot = 6.2 L) filled with various combinations of filter media (slag, granite, limestone) of different sizes (2–5, 5–10, 10–20 mm) were fed on-site during four months with a CW effluent (in mg/L: 30 COD, 30 TSS, 10 Pt). Results showed that the best media combination enabling the maximum o-PO4 retention (more than 80% removal without clogging) consisted in a series of a ternary mix column (slag 5–10 mm, granite 2–5 mm, limestone 5–10 mm) followed by a slag column (slag 5–10 mm). Pilot scale columns (Vtot = 300 L), filled with the best media combination, were installed at the outlet of a 28 m2 CW. These columns showed more than 75% removal efficiency during one year and were designed to be easily replaced each year.

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