Waste stabilization ponds (WSPs) and their variants are one the most widely used wastewater treatment systems in the world. However, the scarcity of systematic performance data from full-scale plants has led to challenges associated with their design. The objective of this research was to assess the performance of 388 full-scale WSP systems located in Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia and the United States through the statistical analysis of available monitoring data. Descriptive statistics were calculated of the influent and effluent concentrations and the removal efficiencies for 5-day biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5), total suspended solids (TSS), ammonia nitrogen (N-Ammonia), and either thermotolerant coliforms (TTC) or Escherichia coli for each WSP system, leading to a broad characterization of actual treatment performance. Compliance with different water quality and system performance goals was also evaluated. The treatment plants were subdivided into seven different categories, according to their units and flowsheet. The median influent concentrations of BOD5 and TSS were 431 mg/L and 397 mg/L and the effluent concentrations varied from technology to technology, but median values were 50 mg/L and 47 mg/L, respectively. The median removal efficiencies were 85% for BOD5 and 75% for TSS. The overall removals of TTC and E. coli were 1.74 and 1.63 log10 units, respectively. Future research is needed to better understand the influence of design, operational and environmental factors on WSP system performance.

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