Infiltration of surface water constitutes an important pillar in artificial groundwater recharge. However, insufficient transformation of organic carbon and nutrients, as well as clogging of sediments often cause major problems. The attenuation efficiency of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), nutrients and pathogens versus the risk of bioclogging for intermittent recharge were studied in an infiltration basin covered with different kinds of macrovegetation. The quality and concentration of organic carbon, major nutrients, as well as bacterial biomass, activity and diversity in the surface water, the porewater, and the sediment matrix were monitored over one recharge period. Additionally, the numbers of viral particles and Escherichia coli were assessed. Our study showed a fast establishment of high microbial activity. DOC and nutrients have sustainably been reduced within 1.2 m of sediment passage. Numbers of E. coli, which were high in the topmost centimetres of sediment porewater, dropped below the detection limit. Reed cover was found to be advantageous over bushes and trees, since it supported higher microbial activities along with a good infiltration and purification performance. Short-term infiltration periods of several days followed by a break of similar time were found suitable for providing high recharge rates, and good water purification without the risk of bioclogging.

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