A semi-empirical mechanistic model able to simulate the dynamics of a stabilization reservoir was developed incorporating both settling of particulate components and chemical/biological processes. Several factors affecting the reservoir effluent quality were taken into account: hydraulics and hydrology, solar radiation, atmospheric reaeration, algae, zooplankton, organic matter, pathogen bacteria, and sediment-water interaction. The model quantifies the specific influence of each factor on effluent quality, evaluating the correlation between the different considered factors. State variables included in the model were: algae, dissolved oxygen, organic matter, zooplankton and indicator bacteria.

The model was transferred into a computational code in order to provide a useful and versatile tool for water resource planning management issues. The model was verified by comparing simulated results with full-scale data collected from a small reservoir (Sicily, IT) filled with partially treated wastewater. The reservoir has a volume of 11,000 m3, a maximum depth of 6.3 m and a mean depth of about 5 m. The monitoring period lasted four months during which the reservoir operated in different hydraulics conditions: as a standard batch reactor and as a continuous flow reactor. The model was able to reproduce the behaviour of the principal simulated parameters thus representing a potential tool for the management and performance optimization of these peculiar storage/treatment systems.