On-site domestic wastewater treatment by reed bed in the moist subtropics

Document Type


Publication details

Davison, L, Headley, TR & Edmonds, M 2001, 'On-site domestic wastewater treatment by reed bed in the moist subtropics', Water Science and Technology, vol. 44, no. 11-12, pp. 353-360.

Peer Reviewed



This paper summarises the results of studies on four subsurface flow wetlands (reed beds) located in the moist sub-tropical north eastern corner of the Australian state of New South Wales. The reed beds, which are subjected to a variety of effluent types, all have a gravel substrate planted with Phragmites australis. All four units were found to maintain satisfactory treatment performance year round. Mean removal efficiencies ranged from 56% to 90% (SS), 70% to 93% (BOD), 38% to 66% (TN), 87% to 99.8% (Faecal coliforms), and 42% to 70% (TP - with one seasonal result of 0% for the eight year old unit) for the four reed beds. After eight years in operation the oldest reed bed was showing signs of phosphorus saturation with outlet TP concentrations exceeding inlet concentrations on some occasions. The youngest reed bed studied appeared to be operating efficiently after five months. A summer water balance on one of the reed beds revealed an average crop factor of 1.6 and a moisture loss to atmosphere of 40% of influent flow. Treatment performance (particularly for TN and SS) was found to be negatively correlated with rainfall during one study. The paper discusses the implications of the above results for on-site system designers and regulators and identifies areas for further investigation.

Find in your library