Constructed wetlands (CWs) for wastewater treatment are engineered systems that are designed and operated in order to use all natural processes involved in the removal of pollutants from wastewaters. CWs are designed to take advantage of many of the same processes that occur in natural wetlands, but do so within a more controlled environment. The basic classification is based on the presence/absence of wastewater on the wetland surface. The subsurface flow of CWs can be classified according to the direction of the flow to horizontal and vertical. The combination of various types of CWs is called hybrid CW. The CWs technology began in the 1950s in Germany, but the major extension across the world occurred during the 1990s and early 2000s. The early CWs in Germany were designed as hybrid CWs; however, during the 1970s and 1980s, horizontal subsurface flow CWs were mostly designed. The stricter limits for nitrogen, and especially ammonia, applied in Europe during the 1990s, brought more attention to vertical subsurface flow and hybrid systems. Constructed wetlands have been used to treat various types of wastewater, including sewage, industrial and agricultural wastewaters, various drainage and runoff waters and landfill leachate. Recently, more attention has also been paid to constructed treatment wetlands as part of a circular economy in the urban environments: it is clear that CWs are a good fit for the new concept of sponge cities.
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