Retention soil filter as post-treatment step to remove micropollutants from sewage treatment plant effluent

Andrea F. Brunsch*, Thomas L. ter Laak, Ekkehard Christoffels, Huub H.M. Rijnaarts, Alette A.M. Langenhoff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Retention soil filters (RSFs) are a specific form of vertical flow constructed wetlands for the treatment of rain water and/or wastewater. We have tested 3 pilot RSFs to investigate removal of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and 14 different organic micropollutants (OMPs) from the effluent of a large scale sewage treatment plant (STP). Two of them were operated as conventional RSF with material (sand with CaCO3 and organic matter) from two different full-scale RSFs. The third pilot RSF contained filter material (sand with CaCO3) with additional biochar in the upper layer (0–10 cm) and granulated activated carbon (GAC) in the lower layer (60–90 cm). The filters were planted with Phragmites australis. The RSFs were operated and monitored for 3 years, and water samples were taken regularly at inflow, outflows and in 3 depths within the filters. In total 523 samples were taken. In the conventional RSF, best median removal was detected for galaxolide, diclofenac 4-hydroxy, metoprolol and clarithromycin (75–79%). No removal was seen for sulfamethoxazole and carbamazepine. The DOC and OMP removal in the conventional RSFs was best in the upper layer with highest organic matter content, increased in time over the three years of operation and also with extended contact time. In the effluent of the RSF with GAC, 10 out of the 14 OMPs could not be detected; 4 OMPs were detected, but only metformin with removal < 80%, thus showing a more efficient removal than the conventional RSF. A decrease in DOC removal was detected in the GAC layer (>88% to 60%) over the 2.5 years of operation. Biochar was most effective in OMP removal in the first operational year. It can be concluded that the increasing removal efficiency of the conventional RSF material – also present in the RSF with biochar and GAC – might mitigate the reduced efficiency of the sorbent additives biochar and GAC. This enables to extend the operational lifetime of the filters with acceptable removal rates. Finally, our study demonstrates that an RSF with GAC shows an enhanced removal of OMPs, which is a suitable post-treatment step for STPs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1098-1107
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume637-638
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018

Keywords

  • Constructed wetlands
  • Granular activated carbon
  • Micropollutants
  • Post-treatment step
  • Retention soil filter
  • Wastewater treatment

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