The kinetics of organic matter and nutrient removal in a pilot vertical subsurface wetland with red ferralitic soil as substrate were evaluated. The wetland (20 m2) was planted with Cyperus alternifolius. The domestic wastewater that was treated in the wetland had undergone a primary treatment consisting of a septic moat and a buffer tank. From the sixth week of operation, the performance of the wetland stabilized, and a significant reduction in pollutant concentration of the effluent wastewater was obtained. Also a significant increase of dissolved oxygen (5 mg/l) was obtained. The organic matter removal efficiency was greater than 85% and the nutrient removal efficiency was greater than 75% in the vertical subsurface wetland. Nitrogen and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) removal could be described by a first-order model. The kinetic constants were 3.64 and 3.27 d−1 for BOD and for total nitrogen, respectively. Data on the removal of phosphorus were adapted to a second-order model. The kinetic constant was 0.96 (mg/l)−1 d−1. The results demonstrated the potential of vertical flow constructed wetlands to clean treated domestic wastewater before discharge into the environment.

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