The aim of this study was to evaluate the performance of two pilot horizontal flow constructed wetlands (HFCWs) with and without vegetation. Three types of plants namely Canna, Phragmites australis and Cyprus papyrus were used. The surface area of each plant was 654 m2. The flow rate was 20 m3 d−1 and the organic loading rate range was 1.7–3.4 kg BOD d−1 with a detention time of 11 days. The results obtained showed that planted HFCW produced high quality effluent in terms of reduction of chemical oxygen demand (COD; 88%), biochemical oxygen demand (BOD; 91%) and total suspended solids (TSS; 92%) as well as nutrient removal. In addition, 4 logs of total coliform were removed from the planted unit compared with only 3 logs in the unplanted one. The phosphate uptake by the plants reached 29, 30.91 and 38.9 g P m−2 for Canna, Phragmites and Cyprus, respectively, with 60% removal rate in the treated effluent. The nitrogen uptake by the same plants reached 63.1, 49.46 and 82.33 g N m−2. Although, the unplanted unit proved to be efficient in the removal of COD, BOD and TSS, it lacks efficiency in pathogen and nutrient removal. The reclaimed wastewater, after disinfection, could be reused for non-restricted irrigation purposes.

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