Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, Volume 223, Issue 6, pp 3155–3171 | Cite as

Numerical Modelling of Waste Stabilization Ponds: Where Do We Stand?

  • Leena Sah
  • Diederik P. L. RousseauEmail author
  • Christine M. Hooijmans


Waste stabilization pond (WSP) technology has been an active area of research for the last three decades. In spite of its relative simplicity of design, operation and maintenance, the various processes taking place in WSP have not been entirely quantified. Lately, modelling has served as an important, low-cost tool for a better description and an improved understanding of the system. Although several papers on individual pond models have been published, there is no specific review on different models developed so far. This paper aims at filling this gap. Models are compared by focussing on their key features like the presence and comprehensiveness of a water quality sub-model in terms of aerobic/anoxic and anaerobic carbon removal and nutrient removal; the type of hydraulic sub-model used (0D, 1D, 2D or 3D); the software used for implementation and simulation; and whether or not sensitivity analysis, calibration and validation were done. This paper also recommends future directions of research in this area. In-depth study of the published models reveals a clear evolution over time in the concept of modelling, from just hydraulic empirical models to 3D ones and from simple first-order water quality models to complex ones which describe key biochemical processes as a set of mathematical equations. Due to the inherent complexity, models tend to focus only on specific aspects whilst ignoring or simplifying others. For instance, many models have been developed that either focus solely on hydrodynamics or solely on biochemical processes. Models which integrate both aspects in detail are still rare. Furthermore, it is evident from the review of the different models that calibration and validation with full-scale WSP data is also scarce. Hence, we believe that there is a need for the development of a comprehensive, calibrated model for waste stabilization ponds that can reliably serve as a support tool for the improvement and optimization of pond design and performance.


Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) Hydrodynamics Modelling Waste stabilization pond (WSP) Water quality 



Chemical oxygen demand


Maturation pond


Dissolved oxygen


Facultative pond


Hydraulic retention time


Computational fluid dynamics


Secondary facultative pond


Continuous stirred tank reactor


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leena Sah
    • 1
  • Diederik P. L. Rousseau
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Christine M. Hooijmans
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Environmental ResourcesUNESCO-IHE Institute for Water EducationDelftthe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Municipal Water and InfrastructureUNESCO-IHE Institute for Water EducationDelftthe Netherlands
  3. 3.Research Group EnBiChemUniversity College West FlandersKortrijkBelgium

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