This paper reports on the performance of using a multistage constructed wetland (CW) to treat municipal raw wastewater and an analysis of its suitability for agricultural irrigation. The pilot plant consists of two stages of vertical flow CWs plus one stage of a horizontal CW built in 2018 with different local materials at the Gaston Berger University Campus, Saint Louis (Senegal). Each CW stage is composed of several filters with different type of media (silex, granite, or river gravel), filtering media depths, and macrophytes (Phragmites
). The physicochemical and microbiological indicators were monitored over six months at each bed inlet and outlet to evaluate the efficiency and achievements of the Senegalese, European, and WHO regulations/recommendations for disposal or reuse in irrigation. This study demonstrates the viability of this new multistage CW design to treat raw municipal wastewater and produce an effluent of good quality suitable for reuse in agriculture. The removal of organic matter, suspended solids, and nutrients was very high (>95% for SS, BOD5
, >90% for COD and P-PO43−
), as was the reduction of microbiological indicators (fecal coliform reduction >5 log units and helminth egg removal of 100%). First, trends related to the influence of design (the type of gravel, filter depth, and type of macrophyte), operational modes, and the CW treatment efficiency were determined. The use of non-crushed gravel and Typha
spp. seemed to provide better removal rates. On the contrary, no differences were found between the use of silex or granite gravel. For the studied Senegalese conditions under dry and hot climates, the preliminary results indicate that no resting periods are necessary for vertical flow CWs (VFCWs), thus resulting in a reduction in construction and operation costs. The main outcome of our study is evidence that multistage CWs can provide robust, cost-effective treatments, as well as allow for safe water reuse, which is imperative in areas with severe water scarcity and endemic microbiological waterborne diseases.
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