A combined reed bed-freezing bed (RB-FB) technology was effective at treating septage under Canadian climatic conditions over a 5-year period with average loading rates of 82–104 kg TS/m2/y. Varying hydraulic and solid loading rates as well as the increasing sludge cake with time had little to no effect on treatment efficiency, with almost complete removal of organic matter, solids, heavy metals and nutrients. Filtrate concentrations varied significantly between the freeze-thaw and growing seasons for many parameters, although the differences were not important from a treatment or reuse perspective with filtrate quality similar to a low to medium strength domestic wastewater. The potential to reuse the filtrate as a source of irrigation water will depend upon local regulations. The dewatered sludge cake consistently met biosolids land application standards in terms of pathogen and metals content, with Escherichia coli numbers declining with time as sludge cake depth increased. A combined RB-FB technology can provide a cost-effective solution for septage management in northern rural communities with potential for beneficial reuse of both the filtrate and dewatered sludge cake.

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