Clogging is the main operational problem associated with horizontal subsurface flow constructed wetlands (HSSF CWs). The measurement of saturated hydraulic conductivity has proven to be a suitable technique to assess clogging within HSSF CWs. The vertical and horizontal distribution of hydraulic conductivity was assessed in two full-scale HSSF CWs by using two different in situ permeameter methods (falling head (FH) and constant head (CH) methods). Horizontal hydraulic conductivity profiles showed that both methods are correlated by a power function (FH= CH 0.7821, r 2=0.76) within the recorded range of hydraulic conductivities (0-70 m/day). However, the FH method provided lower values of hydraulic conductivity than the CH method (one to three times lower). Despite discrepancies between the magnitudes of reported readings, the relative distribution of clogging obtained via both methods was similar. Therefore, both methods are useful when exploring the general distribution of clogging and, specially, the assessment of clogged areas originated from preferential flow paths within full-scale HSSF CWs. Discrepancy between methods (either in magnitude and pattern) aroused from the vertical hydraulic conductivity profiles under highly clogged conditions. It is believed this can be attributed to procedural differences between the methods, such as the method of permeameter insertion (twisting versus hammering). Results from both methods suggest that clogging develops along the shortest distance between water input and output. Results also evidence that the design and maintenance of inlet distributors and outlet collectors appear to have a great influence on the pattern of clogging, and hence the asset lifetime of HSSF CWs.
- reed beds
- saturated hydraulic conductivity