The Utilisation of a Reed Bed System for the Treatment of Wastewater

  • Ashiq Moinul Islam

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    The utilisation of reed bed systems has attracted increasing attention as a means of treating a range of wastewaters in an efficient, cost-effective and eco-friendly manner. While there have been a number of studies on reed bed systems, there has been limited research investigating into the main pollutant removal mechanisms or biochemical mechanisms within reed beds in the UK.

    Three experimental horizontal subsurface flow reed beds at the University of Northampton were used to determine biochemical characteristics. Soil respiration, dehydrogenase activity and urease activity were utilised as indicators for aerobic microbial activity or biochemical transformation of carbonaceous pollutants, total microbial activity and biochemical transformation of nitrogenous pollutants respectively. The effects of total organic carbon, total nitrogen, bioavailable heavy metals (cadmium, chromium, copper, lead and zinc), temperature, and moisture content on the biochemical parameters within the reed beds were determined.

    The findings suggest that total organic carbon positively influenced soil respiration and dehydrogenase activity. Dehydrogenase activity was also found to be positively correlated with urease activity, but negatively correlated with bioavailable copper. Temperature had a negative impact on all three biochemical parameters. Enhanced soil respiration and urease activity resulted in enhanced removal of chemical oxygen demand and total nitrogen from the landfill leachate. Soil respiration, dehydrogenase activity and urease activity were not found to be predictive of each other. Root zone oxygen released by Phragemites australis might play an important role in soil respiration. Leachate treatment in the warmer seasons and recirculation of leachate on the reed beds might improve their pollutant removal efficiency.
    Date of Award19 Jun 2012
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Northampton
    SupervisorTerry Tudor (Supervisor), Margaret Bates (Supervisor) & Ian Livingstone (Supervisor)


    • reedbeds
    • pollutant removal
    • waste water treatment

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