This study aims to evaluate the practical potential of using constructed wetlands (CWs) for treating saline wastewater containing various heavy metals. The results demonstrated that CWs growing Canna indica with porous slag as substrate could efficiently remove heavy metals (Cu, Zn, Cd, and Pb) from saline wastewater at an electrical conductivity (EC) of 7 mS/cm, especially under low influent load. Salts with salinity level (characterized as EC) of 30 mS/cm suppressed the removal of some heavy metals, dependent on heavy metal species and their influent concentrations. The presence of salts in CWs can improve the accumulation of Cu, Zn, and Pb in plant tissues as compared to control treatment, irrespective of metal concentrations in solution. The influence of salts on Cd accumulation depended on both salinity levels and Cd concentrations in solution. Although more heavy metals were accumulated in roots than in shoots, the harvesting of aboveground plant materials is still efficient addition for heavy metal removal due to the greater biomass and growth rate of aboveground plant material. Furthermore, replacing all plants instead of preserving roots from harvested plants in CWs over a period of time is essential for heavy metal removal, because the continued accumulation by roots can be inhibited by the increasing accumulated heavy metals from saline wastewater.
Keywords: Constructed wetlands; Electrical conductivity; Heavy metals; Removal efficiency; Salt stress.