ASSESSMENT OF A PILOT-SCALE CONSTRUCTED WETLAND SYSTEM FOR TREATMENT OF SANITARY WASTEWATER IN COLOMBIA, SOUTH AMERICA
The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (SNSM), is a large and ecologically diverse region located in northeast Colombia, South America. This region is scenic and pristine with high levels of biodiversity. The terrain is drained by 30 river basins. However, with encroaching development it is feared that many of the rivers and streams could be contaminated by agriculture, industry and domestic sanitary wastewater. The objective of this study was to construct, operate and evaluate a small pilot-scale integrated wastewater treatment facility. The experimental system was designed to provide primary and secondary treatment for up to six residents. The system consists of a septic tank followed by 4 subsurface-flow wetlands, a single surface-flow wetland and a terminal storage lagoon. Once wastewater flow was established, the treatment cells and lagoon were planted with aquatic macrophytes including Hygrophyla guyanensis, Limnochris spand Eichornia crassipes. The efficiency of the pilot plant will be studied over a three year period to evaluate water quality dynamics as a function of sub-system, vegetation and time. However, this paper will report on water quality dynamics during a short 60 day acclimation period. Monitored parameters include temperature, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, pH, Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), Ammonia-N (NH+ 4-N) nitrate (NO3-N) and nitrite (NO2-N). Shortly after start up, removal efficacy was low and irregular. Monitoring results during acclimation of the system revealed anoxic conditions throughout the sub-units. However, COD and nitrate removal improved in subsequent samplings (>80%). Monitoring will be continued for many months to access the impacts of system age, organic loading and aquatic vegetation.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 01 January 2008
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