The ability of reed beds to remove significant levels of metals from effluent streams is well cited in the literature. Various methods of removal have been postulated and demonstrated including physical methods such as filtration and settlement, precipitation when the metal is present as a salt and adsorption to organic species or take up by macrophytes when the metal is in a soluble or ionic form. Consequently, reed beds have been used in a variety of applications for metal removal in water treatment processes. The distillation process for whisky generates an effluent containing a significant amount of copper which is scoured from the copper stills during the process and cleaning operations. High soluble copper concentrations can breach discharge consents. A horizontal subsurface flow reed bed system has been designed and installed for copper removal at a distillery in Scotland. This paper presents the findings of the literature search, outlines the design of the bed and reviews the performance results.

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