Construction solid waste (CSW), an inescapable by-product of the construction and demolition process, was used as main substrate in a four-stage vertical subsurface flow constructed wetland system to improve phosphorus P removal from domestic wastewater. A ‘tidal flow’ operation was also employed in the treatment system. Under a hydraulic loading rate (HLR) of 0.76 m3/m2 d for 1st and 3rd stage and HLR of 0.04 m3/m2 d for 2nd and 4th stage of the constructed wetland system respectively and tidal flow operation strategy, average removal efficiencies of 99.4% for P, 95.4% for ammoniacal-nitrogen, 56.5% for total nitrogen and 84.5% for total chemical oxygen demand were achieved during the operation period. The CSW-based constructed wetland system presents excellent P removal performance. The adoption of tidal flow strategy creates the aerobic/anoxic condition intermittently in the treatment system. This can achieve better oxygen transfer and hence lead to more complete nitrification and organic matter removal and enhanced denitrification. Overall, the CSW-based tidal flow constructed wetland system holds great promise for enabling high rate removal of P, ammoniacal-nitrogen and organic matter from domestic wastewater, and transforms CSW from a waste into a useful material.

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