Water SA

Log in or Register to get access to full text downloads.

Remember me or Register

Treatment for small polluted rivers: Design and performance of an experimental structure

N Ramírez-Baca, R Saucedo-Terán, LI Manzanares-Papayanopoulos, J Carrazco-Palafox, GV Nevárez-Moorillón


In view of the economic reality of developing countries, it will not be possible to build all the necessary wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) needed to control the pollution of their rivers in the next 20 years. Therefore, low-cost alternative technologies must be developed to restore the water quality of polluted rivers. It is well-known that the self-purification cycle in nature uses several biotic and abiotic processes to restore polluted water to its former pristine quality. This cycle has been surpassed in many rivers due to continuous discharges of wastewater into them. A low-cost structure that will enhance the water quality in small polluted rivers is proposed and can be constructed in situ, based on three conditions: Disruption of plug flow, flow velocity and support material for bacterial growth. The design of the experimental stage of this structure can control slope, water flow, length, support material and the number of locks. Two 175m-long experimental models were constructed; both models were filled with crushed, washed and screened 10 to 12 mm diameter river stone. A mixture of primary and secondary effluents from a WWTP was used to test the models, with a chemical oxygen demand of COD ≈50 and 100 mg•l-1 respectively. For a uniform 0.5% slope, the maximum flows achieved were 27 and 30 l•min-1 with and without locks. The system worked efficiently breaking the plug flow, mixing the water flow and allowing stable aerobic microbial communities of 5.58 and 8.86 log UFC•g-1, and COD reductions ranging from 90.27 to 555.2 mg•min-1 depending on the pollutant concentration.
Key words: freshwater contaminants, self-purification, alternative technology, microbial communities
Water SA Vol.31(1) 2005: 101-106
AJOL African Journals Online