Transport and survival of bacterial and viral tracers through submerged-flow constructed wetland and sand-filter system. Academic Article uri icon


  • Untreated or improperly treated wastewater has often been cited as the primary contamination source of groundwater. The use of decentralized wastewater treatment systems has applicability around the world since it obviates the need for extensive infrastructure development and expenditures. The use of a submerged flow constructed wetland (CW) and a sand filter to remove bacterial and viral pathogens from wastewater streams was evaluated in this study Salmonella sp. and a bacteriophages tracer were used in conjunction with the conservative bromide tracer to understand the fate and transport of these organisms in these treatment systems. Viral breakthrough numbers in the sand filter and CW were similar with a Spearman Rank correlation of 0.8 (P<0.05). In the CW, the virus exhibited almost a 3-log reduction, while in the sand filter, the viruses exhibited a 2-log reduction. The bacterial tracers, however, did not exhibit similar reductions. Low numbers of bacteria and viruses were still detectable in the effluent streams suggesting that disinfection of the effluent is critical. The survival of the tracer bacteria and viruses was as expected dependent on the biotic and abiotic conditions existing within the wastewater. The results suggest that the microbial removal characteristics of decentralized wastewater treatment systems can vary and depend on factors such as adsorption, desorption and inactivation which in turn depend on the design specifics such as filter media characteristics and local climatic conditions.

published proceedings

  • Bioresour Technol

author list (cited authors)

  • Vega, E., Lesikar, B., & Pillai, S. D.

citation count

  • 34

complete list of authors

  • Vega, Everardo||Lesikar, Bruce||Pillai, Suresh D

publication date

  • August 2003