Impact of influent wastewater quality on nitrogen removal rates in multistage treatment wetlands

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2015 Sep;22(17):12840-8. doi: 10.1007/s11356-014-3647-4. Epub 2014 Oct 11.


Nitrogen removal in treatment wetlands is influenced by many factors, and the presence of electron donors (biodegradable organic matter) and electron acceptors (nitrate ions) is the main limiting one; for obtaining these conditions, multistage treatment wetlands (MTWs) are required, where an extensive nitrification can be obtained in the first stages under aerobic conditions leaving then to the following anoxic/anaerobic stages the duty of the denitrification. Most of the biodegradable organic matter is however oxidised in the first stages, and therefore, the inlet to the denitrification beds is usually poor of easily degradable carbon sources. This study is comparing the long-term performances obtained at several MTWs operating in Europe (North and South) and North Africa in order to understand if there is a significant avail in making use of the influent chemical oxygen demand (COD)/N ratio during the design phase for ensuring proper performances in terms of N overall removal. The statistic analysis performed in this study have shown that MTWs are capable to ensure sufficient removal of both organic and nutrients even in unfavourable proportions of macronutrients (C and N). The usual assumptions for conventional biological treatment systems concerning adequate C/N ratios seem to be dubious in case of wastewater treatment in MTWs.

MeSH terms

  • Biological Oxygen Demand Analysis
  • Carbon / analysis
  • Denitrification
  • Nitrification
  • Nitrogen / analysis
  • Wastewater / analysis*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / isolation & purification*
  • Water Purification*
  • Water Quality
  • Wetlands*


  • Waste Water
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Carbon
  • Nitrogen