Abstract

The aim of this work was to evaluate the treatment performance in the first stage of a vertical flow constructed wetland – French system (VCW – FS) during an extended feeding period (seven days), in two parallel units, for a population equivalent around 100 inhabitants (total of 0.6 m²·p·e.−1), under Brazilian tropical climatic conditions. One of the units had a greater surface sludge deposit layer, accumulated over nine years of operation, while the other unit had its sludge removed prior to the experiments. Four intensive monitoring campaigns covering all days of the feeding cycle were undertaken and the results were compared with those obtained from the conventional monitoring. The results indicated that, as the days of the feeding cycle progressed, dissolved oxygen concentrations decreased, but was still kept at sufficiently high values for the removal of organic matter. Therefore, COD removal, although not high, remained acceptable for compliance with local discharge standards during all the period. The NH4+-N removal efficiency and NO3-N production were larger at the beginning of the feeding cycle, as a result of the more well-established aerobic conditions, with the nitrification rate decreasing from the third day of feeding. The sludge deposit seemed to hinder the liquid percolation, especially at the end of the feeding cycle, thus affecting oxygen transfer. Due to the variability of the results along the feeding cycle, if sampling is to be done once-a-week, it is important to identify the sampling day that best represents the system's performance.

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