Vertical partially saturated (VPS) constructed wetlands (CWs) are a novel wastewater treatment system for which little information is known about its design parameters and performance under tropical climates. The objective of this study is to evaluate the nitrogen removal process from domestic wastewater and the production of tropical ornamental plants (Canna hybrids and Zantedeschia aethiopica) in VPS CWs at a mesocosms scale. Nine VPS CWs, with a free-flow zone of 16 cm and a saturated zone of 16 cm, were used as experimental units. Three units were planted with Canna hybrids., and three, with Zantedeschia aethiopica (one plant per unit); the remaining three units were established as controls without vegetation. They were fed with domestic wastewater intermittently and evaluated for the elimination of COD, N-NH4, N-NO3, Norg, NT, and PT. The results showed an increase in the removal for some pollutants in the vegetated systems, i.e., N-NH4 (35%), Norg (16%), TN (25%), and TP (47%) in comparison to the unvegetated systems. While N-NO3 removal showed better removal in 10% of the systems without vegetation, no significant differences were found (p > 0.05) for COD removal. The aerobic and anaerobic conditions in the VPS CWs favor the elimination of pollutants in the systems, and also the development of the tropical species evaluated in this study; good development was exhibited by a high growth rate and biomass production.
Keywords: biomass; constructed wetlands; nitrogen; ornamental plants; wastewater.