Removal Efficiency of Faecal Indicator Organisms, Nutrients and Heavy Metals from a Peri-Urban Wastewater Treatment Plant in Thohoyandou, Limpopo Province, South Africa

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2015 Jun 29;12(7):7300-20. doi: 10.3390/ijerph120707300.


Wastewater treatment facilities are known sources of fresh water pollution. This study was carried out from January to June 2014 to assess the reduction efficiency of some selected contaminants in the Thohoyandou wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). The pH and electrical conductivity of the effluent fell within the South African wastewater discharge guidelines. The WWTP showed the chemical oxygen demand reduction efficiency required by the Department of Water Affairs (DWA) guidelines of 75 mg/L for the months of April and June, although it was below this standard in March and May. Free chlorine concentration varied between 0.26-0.96 mg/L and exceeded the DWA guideline value of 0.25 mg/L. The concentration of nitrate-nitrogen (NO3(-) N) in the influent and effluent varied between 0.499-2.31 mg/L and 7.545-19.413 mg/L, respectively. The concentration of NO3- N in the effluent complied with DWA effluent discharge standard of 15 mg/L, except in April and May. Phosphate concentrations in the influent and effluent were in the ranges of 0.552-42.646 mg/L and 1.572-32.554 mg/L, respectively. The WWTP showed reduction efficiencies of E. coli and Enterococci during some sampling periods but the level found in the effluent exceeded the recommended guideline value of 1000 cfu/100 mL for faecal indicator organisms in wastewater effluents. Consistent removal efficiencies were observed for Al (32-74%), Fe (7-32%) and Zn (24-94%) in most of the sampling months. In conclusion, the Thohoyandou WWTP is inefficient in treating wastewater to the acceptable quality before discharge.

Keywords: E. coli; effluents; health; impacts; influent; treatment; wastewater.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Feces / chemistry*
  • Metals, Heavy / analysis*
  • South Africa
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid / methods*
  • Waste Water / analysis*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*
  • Water Purification / methods*


  • Metals, Heavy
  • Waste Water
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical