Two pilot-scale studies were comparatively conducted under tropical conditions during December 1992 to September 1993. One study involved facultative ponds(FP) and the others water spinach ponds(SP). Four rectangular concrete ponds, 0.8 m × 2.4 m × 1.1 m (width × length × depth), were employed to treat the Chiang Mai University campus wastewater. Water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica) was planted in two of the ponds. The influent characteristics noted showed a low organic content, i.e. BOD 25.4-29.9 mg/l, with BOD:N ratio around 1:1. The investigations were conducted using the following hydraulic retention times (HRT): 1.6, 2, 2.7, 4, 8 and 16 d. The results showed that the BOD, COD and SS mass removal rates increased as the mass loading rates increased and the SP was significantly more effective in reducing the organic content than the FP. No relationship was found between TN mass removal and the loading rates. However, the TP mass removal rates in the SP and the FP were rather low and were considered to be insignificant. It was observed that SS accumulated in the water spinach root systems which tended to act as a strainer. This process led to plant growth inhibition and finally die-off. The average water spinach growth rates varied from 37 to 107 g wet wt./(m2.d) and no relationship was established between the growth rates and the HRT.