Reviews in Environmental Science and Bio/Technology

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 517–539 | Cite as

A review of bacterial indicator disinfection mechanisms in waste stabilisation ponds

  • D. F. C. Dias
  • R. G. Passos
  • M. von Sperling
review paper


Waste stabilisation ponds are applied all over the world for treating domestic wastewater. In many developing countries, they constitute the most widely used treatment process, and incorporate the important function of pathogen removal. Because of this wide utilisation, ponds have been extensively studied, resulting in new insights on the disinfection mechanisms, thus leading to more efficient systems and lower land and volume requirements. The previous “black-box” approach for pond design is being substituted by a more conceptual view resulting from a better understanding of pathogen removal mechanisms. This review manuscript aims at gathering previous and current research done on this matter, concentrating on coliforms, and evaluating the following mechanisms and influencing factors: temperature; sedimentation and attachment; dissolved oxygen and pH levels; sunlight-mediated disinfection (in combination with DO and pH) and dark inactivation/repair; biological disinfection (predation, starvation and competition); algal toxins; depth and hydraulic retention time; physical design and hydrodynamic behaviour. Gaps that still need to be filled are identified, which could still lead to further optimisation of waste stabilisation ponds performance.


Waste stabilisation ponds Disinfection mechanisms Hydrodynamics E. coli Coliforms 



The authors would like to thank CNPq, Capes, Fapemig, Finep and COPASA. This research was part of an international programme financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the project “Stimulating local innovation on sanitation for the urban poor in Sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia – SaniUp”, under the coordination of UNESCO-IHE, Institute for Water Education, Delft, the Netherlands.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sanitary and Environmental EngineeringFederal University of Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil

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