The first subsurface flow wetland (SSFW) system for about 1,000 PE, was constructed in Nicaragua in 1996 to apply this technology in the form of an integral project, combining the treatment of domestic wastewater with its reuse for crop production in small and medium size communities. The SSFW-effluent meets all standards established in the national regulations for wastewater reuse in agriculture, except for faecal coliforms, existent at an average concentration of 7 × 104 MPN/100 ml. A conventional surface irrigation method was used to irrigate different crop species selected to establish their risk of contamination. To judge the potential health risk for consumers and farmers, samples of vegetables and fruits harvested in the dry seasons of the years 1997 to 2002, were analyzed for the presence of pathogenic microorganisms like faecal coliforms, salmonella and shigella. In addition, a yield comparison between crops irrigated with well water using chemical fertilizers, and crops irrigated with the effluent of the SSFW-system was made, to analyze the economical benefits of the wastewater reuse.

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