Waste stabilization ponds (WSPs), as part of municipal wastewater treatment strategies, can exhibit variability in performance due to climatic conditions. Under elevated temperature and strong solar radiation, algal blooms and subsequent high pH effluents have often been observed. In this study, four substrates (gravel, peat, organic mulch, and topsoil) were evaluated for their ability to attenuate high pH effluents from a WSP. Synthetic wastewater with pH > 9.5, and low organic and nutrient loadings, was used to mimic algal-induced high pH effluents in 72 L rectangular bench-scale superficial constructed wetland configuration reactors. Peat exhibited the highest attenuation ability, where the effluent pH decreased substantially from 10.3 to 7.7, primarily due to its high organic contents. Peat also removed 53.7% of the influent total phosphorus, which could effectively limit algal growth. No statistically significant differences were discovered among gravel, topsoil, and organic mulch in terms of pH attenuation. Topsoil and organic mulch both have a relatively high alkalinity, making them ideal to maintain consistent pH levels. However, naturally high chemical oxygen demand levels in organic mulch raised concerns in the leaching of these compounds into the treated wastewater, making it less appealing for systems with low organic loading.

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