Wastewater treatment and resource recovery for poverty alleviation: a combined duckweed and water hyacinth pond system
Hounkpe Wendeou, Sèna Peace
Floating macrophyte pond systems, with the ability to produce nutrient enriched plants simultaneously with wastewater treatment, are a sustainable solution to contribute to environmental protection and safe nutrient recovery from domestic wastewater. However, to meet the requirements for reuse with high strength wastewater containing high levels of metal pollution generated in developing countries, an adequate combination of water hyacinth and duckweed ponds is proposed in order to take advantage of the best characteristics of each of these macrophyte ponds. This research focused on the advancing of the understanding of the effectiveness of treatment and resource recovery under the effect of changing operational parameters such as pH, light intensity, influent metal content and fluctuating pollutants loading rate on pond performance and recycling ability in order to fill the noticed gap of knowledge. Experiments conducted in water hyacinth ponds (WHP), under batch and tropical natural weather conditions, revealed that pH between 6.4 and 7.1, full sunlight and seven days hydraulic retention time were optimum for plant biomass production and pollutant removal in WHP. WHP was able to regulate pH when the initial pH values moved outside this interval with a drop in biomass production as a side effect. These ponds showed a first order kinetic for the removal of iron, zinc and copper from aqueous solution and their accumulation in plants biomass with a preferential sequence Fe>Zn>Cu. However the presence of metals in water hyacinth biomass led to the reduction in ponds performances and a risk of re-pollution of the effluent through the release of metals into water. A comparative study carried out over sixty-two weeks in a pilot scale combined water hyacinth and duckweed ponds (DWP) channel and waste stabilization ponds channel working under fluctuating loading rates showed different environmental conditions occurred these ponds. The fluctuating loading rate was also found to have a reduced effect on the combined WHP/DWP channel performance and effluent quality stability with the effluents meeting the entire reuse requirement at high hydraulic flow rate (retention time greater than 20 days). Fish was able to grow in the WHP/DWP channel. Results suggested some guidelines on WHP/DWP system design, operation and maintenance. The overall outcome of this research is a significant contribution to the development of integrated combined WHP/DWP technology for treatment of wastewater and resource recovery on site.