The efficiency of constructed floating wetlands (CFWs) in their ability to remove agrochemicals (nutrients and pesticides) is here investigated in a series of pilot-scale systems. Four experimental CFWs were designed and constructed; three of them were planted with the aquatic plant species Lemna minor, Azolla pinnata and Eichhornia crassipes. The fourth did not contain any plants and was used as the control. The aim of the study was to evaluate the efficiency of CFW containing aquatic macrophytes in the reduction of pesticides and nutrients, under field conditions. The CFWs operated continuously from May 2021 to September 2021, and their removal efficiencies of nitrogen and phosphorus ions, and five commonly used pesticides were examined. The CFW systems were fed daily with agricultural wastewater which was prepared by mixing a fertilizer and predetermined doses of pesticides. The hydraulic residence time was kept at 14 days. Samples were collected on a weekly basis from both the influent and the effluent of each experimental tank, and were subsequently analyzed in the laboratory. HPLC-DAD and Ion Chromatography were implemented for sample analysis following a very simple sample preparation. Reductions for nutrient ranged from no reduction to 100% removal, whereas for pesticides these varied from no reduction to 98.8% removal, indicating that these systems can be used as efficient and low-cost pollution control technologies for agrochemical wastewater treatment. Significant reduction for certain pesticides was also observed in the algae control tank, thus, proving the efficiency of algae in organic pollution reduction, and recognizing the limitations of aquatic plant use in decontamination.
Keywords: agricultural wastewater treatment; constructed floating wetlands; nitrogen; pesticides; phosphorus; removal.