Constructed wetlands consist of soil filled beds with aquatic plants. Wastewater is treated when flowing through these beds. It has been questioned if constructed wetlands will be able to operate when subjected to cold conditions in sub arctic regions. Experience from Norway indicates that significant biological activity occurs at temperatures between 0 and 5°C, and that high removal rates of nutrients and organic matter are achieved in ponds and soil amended with wastewater at these temperatures. Results from using constructed wetlands in Denmark, Sweden and North America show that winter performance is not significantly reduced as compared to other seasons, but in order to obtain high removal of organic matter and nitrogen in cold climates aerobic pretreatment is probably a prerequisite. Cold climates may also require careful installation of larger and deeper systems with a longer detention time. Results of 15 months operation of a Norwegian multi-stage constructed wetland pilot plant optimised for nutrient removal, show 55% nitrogen and 98% phosphorus removal. The large phosphorus removal is obtained by using sand with a high content of iron oxides and a fabricated porous medium that has a high phosphorus adsorption capacity. It remains to be seen if long term cost efficient phosphorus removal can be obtained in constructed wetlands. The results indicate that properly designed constructed wetlands can operate satisfactorily in a cold climate. When adequate design criteria are developed several possible applications exist for these simple low maintenance systems as main treatment system, or in conjunction with other treatment methods.

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