South Australian community wastewater management schemes (CWMS) treat wastewater using waste stabilisation ponds before disposal or reuse. This study compared the performance of a facultative pond, 6,300 m2, 27.5 d theoretical hydraulic retention time (THRT), with a high rate algal pond (HRAP) operated at depths of 0.32, 0.43 and 0.55 m with THRT equivalent to 4.5, 6.4 and 9.1 d respectively. Both ponds received influents of identical quality, differing only in quantity, and were operated in similar climatic conditions. The depth of HRAP operation had only a minor influence on treatment performance. The study showed that the quality of the treated effluent from the HRAP was equivalent to that of the facultative pond, 5-day biochemical oxygen demand removal >89%, NH4-N removal 59.09–74.45%. Significantly, Escherichia coli log10 reduction values by the HRAP, 1.74–2.10, were equivalent to those of the facultative pond. Consequently, HRAPs could replace facultative ponds within CWMS while maintaining treated effluent quality. The benefit would be halving the surface area requirement from 4.2 m2 capita−1 for the facultative pond to between 2.0 and 2.3 m2 capita−1, depth dependent, for an HRAP, with significant attendant reductions in the capital costs for construction.

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