Impact of water quality parameters on the clogging of vertical-flow constructed wetlands treating urban wastewater

Abdulkadir Sani, Miklas Scholz, Akintunde Babatunde, Yu Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


In theory, biological and physical clogging, induced as a result of potentially excessive formation of biomass from degradation of pollutants and retention of inert suspended fine particles, respectively, should result in a decrease of treatment performance. However, some wetlands are not prone to clogging in practice. The aim of this study was to compare the impact of different design (aggregate size) and operational (contact time, empty time and chemical oxygen demand [COD] loading) variables on the treatment efficiency and clogging processes. Different vertical-flow constructed wetlands were constructed and operated from June 2011 until June 2012. Data from June 2011 (setting-up period) were not used. The filter with the highest COD loading performed the worst in terms of outflow COD concentration (120 mg/l) but best in terms of COD load reduction (61 %). The wetland with the largest aggregate size had the lowest mean nitrate-nitrogen outflow concentration of 1.2 mg/l. However, the results were similar regardless of aggregate size (10 versus 20 mm) and resting time (24 versus 48 h) for most water quality variables. However, different COD inflow concentrations (COD of 146 mg/l versus COD of 312 mg/l) had a significant (p < 0.05) impact on the treatment performance for COD, ammonia-nitrogen, ortho-phosphate-phosphorus and suspended solids (SS). Serious clogging phenomena impacting negatively on the treatment performance were not observed for any columns. However, a small aggregate diameter, a short contact time, a long resting time and a low COD inflow concentration were most beneficial in reducing SS accumulation within the wetland filters.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1488
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Aggregate size
  • Chemical oxygen demand
  • Contact time
  • Phosphorus
  • Resting time
  • Suspended solids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution


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