REMOVAL OF PHOSPHORUS IN CONSTRUCTED WETLANDS WITH HORIZONTAL SUB-SURFACE FLOW IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC

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Abstract

The major processes responsible for phosphorus (P) removal in constructed wetlands with horizontal sub-surface flow (HSF CWs) are adsorption, precipitation and plant uptake if the biomass is harvested. The filtration materials frequently used in HSF CWs, i.e., gravel or crushed rock, provide only limited adsorption and plants are not regularly harvested. As a result, the removal of P in HSF CWs is usually low and typically amounts to only 40 to 60% during the treatment of municipal or domestic sewage. The average inflow and outflow P concentrations for vegetated beds of Czech HSF CWs were 6.6 mg L−1and 3.6 mg L−1, respectively. The average P removal was 45.7%. Despite a wide fluctuation of inflow phosphorus loading rates in the Czech CWs (10.9 – 356 g P m−2a−1) the retention of P is well predictable. The CWs in the Czech Republic are relatively new and therefore, it is not possible to evaluate long-time performance of P removal. However, results from systems that have been in operation for longer periods (maximum of 9 years) indicate that P removal decreases over years probably as a result of limited sorption capacity. The amount of P removed by aboveground Phragmites biomass is very low and usually does not exceed 5% of the total removed P in the beginning of operation. As the sorption decreases over years and macrophyte biomass increases at the same time the importance of P bound in biomass becomes higher but it rarely exceeds the level of 20% of the total P removed.

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