The aim of this study was to characterize the efficiency of an intensified process of vertical flow constructed wetland having the following particularities: (i) biological pretreatment by trickling filter, (ii) FeCl3 injection for dissolved phosphorus removal and (iii) succession of different levels of redox conditions along the process line. A pilot-scale set-up designed to simulate a real-scale plant was constructed and operated using real wastewater. The influences of FeCl3 injection and water saturation level within the vertical flow constructed wetland stage on treatment performances were studied. Three different water saturation levels were compared by monitoring: suspended solids (SS), total phosphorus (TP), dissolved chemical oxygen demand (COD), ammonium, nitrate, phosphate, iron, and manganese. The results confirmed the good overall efficiency of the process and the contribution of the trickling filter pretreatment to COD removal and nitrification. The effects of water saturation level and FeCl3 injection on phosphorus removal were evaluated by analysis of the correlations between the variables. Under unsaturated conditions, good nitrification and no denitrification were observed. Under partly saturated conditions, both nitrification and denitrification were obtained, along with a good retention of SSs. Finally, under saturated conditions, the performance was decreased for almost all parameters.

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