The Efficacy of a Tropical Constructed Wetland for Treating Wastewater During the Dry Season: The Kenyan Experience



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Springer Nature


Constructed wetlands have recently received considerable attention as low cost and efficient means of cleaning up many different types of wastewaters at secondary and tertiary levels. This is an environmentally sound method of wastewater treatment that does not use hazardous chemicals, and is based on the high productivity and nutrient removal capability of the wetland that strongly relies on its intricate ecosystem structure and function. Research work was conducted on a tropical constructed wetland to establish its capability to treat wastewater during the dry season. A comparison of its efficacy with that of conventional wastewater treatment plants was made on the basis of the measured water quality parameters. Temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, and conductivity were measured in situ. Total suspended solids (TSS), total dissolved solids (TDS), biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5), chemical oxygen demand (COD), phosphorus, ammonia, and nitrites were analyzed in the laboratory. Fecal coliforms were enumerated and Escherichia coli counts were determined. The TSS values reduced from a mean of 102 mg/l at the influent point to 16 mg/l at the effluent point, depicting a reduction of 84.3%. Influent TDS averaged 847 mg/l, while the effluent averaged 783 mg/l. Dry season BOD5 levels were reduced from an average of 286 at the inlet point to 11 mg/l at the outlet representing a reduction efficiency of 96.2%. COD levels were reduced from a mean of 2,002.5 to 47.5 mg/l depicting a removal efficiency of 97.6%. Phosphorus was reduced from a mean of 14 to 11 mg/l representing a percentage removal of 21.4%. Levels of ammonia reduced from a mean of 61 at the influent point to 36 mg/l at the effluent point representing a percent reduction of 41.0%. There was a 99.99% reduction for both the fecal coliforms and E. coli counts. Conductivity of wastewater increased from 1.08 to 1.98 mS, while the pH increased from 6.23 at the inlet point to 7.99 at the outlet of the system. Temperature and dissolved oxygen measurements showed a diurnal variation. The dry season wastewater heavy metal concentrations were in the following ranges: Pb (0.7–6.9 ppm), Cr (0.2–0.5 ppm), Zn (0.1–2.3 ppm), Ni (0.1–1.3 ppm) with Cd and Cu not being detected in the wastewater streams. Overall, tropical constructed wetlands are effective in treating wastewater streams and they perform a lot better than the popularly used waste stabilization ponds. This paper recommends that they can be widely used within the tropics.




Kelvin, K., Tole, M. The Efficacy of a Tropical Constructed Wetland for Treating Wastewater During the Dry Season: The Kenyan Experience. Water Air Soil Pollut 215, 137–143 (2011).