Three pilot-scale compact constructed wetland systems were constructed to treat stormwater from a highway. They each comprised a sedimentation tank, and a vertical flow (VF) wetland bed equipped with a recirculation device. The VF wetland beds were filled with woodchip, pumice and volcanic gravel, respectively. According to the analysis of the particle size distributions (0.52–500 μm), the predominant particles in stormwater ranged in size from 0.52–30 μm. In the sedimentation tank, with a 24 h settling time, the settling efficiencies of the particles increased with increasing particle size. In the VF wetland beds, further capture of the particles was achieved; however, the woodchip and volcanic gravel wetlands displayed relatively low trapping of micro-particles, due to the natural properties of the substrates. Recirculation caused a positive effect on the retention of particles in the woodchip wetland. Due to the employment of a pre-treatment tank and the high porosity of materials, the accumulated solids occupied very low proportions of the pore volume in the wetland substrates. The results also showed that the accumulation of copper, zinc and lead do not pose a problem for the disposal of the substrates when the wetlands reach the end of their operational lifetime.

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