The role of plant uptake on the removal of organic matter and nutrients in subsurface flow constructed wetlands: a simulation study

Langergraber, G.

Water Science and Technology a Journal of the International Association on Water Pollution Research 51(9): 213-223


ISSN/ISBN: 0273-1223
PMID: 16042261
DOI: 10.2166/wst.2005.0322
Accession: 004362744

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Plants in constructed wetlands have several functions related to the treatment processes. It is generally agreed that nutrient uptake is a minor factor in constructed wetlands treating wastewater compared to the loadings applied. For low loaded systems plant uptake can contribute a significant amount to nutrient removal. The contribution of plant uptake is simulated for different qualities of water to be treated using the multi-component reactive transport module CW2D. CW2D is able to describe the biochemical elimination and transformation processes for organic matter, nitrogen and phosphorus in subsurface flow constructed wetlands. The model for plant uptake implemented describes nutrient uptake coupled to water uptake. Literature values are used to calculate potential water and nutrient uptake rates. For a constructed wetland treating municipal wastewater a potential nutrient uptake of about 1.9% of the influent nitrogen and phosphorus load can be expected. For lower loaded systems the potential uptake is significantly higher, e.g. 46% of the nitrogen load for treatment of greywater. The potential uptake rates could only be simulated for high loaded systems i.e. constructed wetlands treating wastewater. For low loaded systems the nutrient concentrations in the liquid phase were too low to simulate the potential uptake rates using the implemented model for plant uptake.