Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Performance of hybrid vertical up- and downflow subsurface flow constructed wetlands in treating synthetic high-strength wastewater


The performance and temporal variation of hybrid vertical-subsurface flow constructed wetlands (VFCWs) in response to two-stage combinations of vertical upflow (VUF) and vertical downflow (VDF) were analyzed in this research. The results of high carbon (C) treatment and high nitrogen (N) treatment were similar. The Lythrum salicaria treatment showed higher removal efficiency than CWs planted with Acorus calamus. Under high C- and N-loading treatments, the optimum two-stage combination was VDF-VUF VFCWs planted with A. calamus. Furthermore, the highest nutrient removal efficiencies were achieved in late summer (July and August) and early autumn (September). The chemical oxygen demand and total nitrogen removal efficiencies were significantly affected (P < 0.05) by season, system, and wetland plant.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4


  1. APHA-AWWA-WPCF (1995) Standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater. American Public Health Association, Washington, DC

  2. de-Bashan LE, Bashan Y (2004) Recent advances in removing phosphorus from wastewater and its future use as fertilizer (1997–2003). Water Res 38:4222–4246

  3. Farahbakhshazad N, Morrison GM (2000) A constructed vertical macrophyte system for retention of nitrogen in agricultural runoff. Environ Technol 21:217–224

  4. Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences (1978) Soil physics and chemistry analysis. Shanghai Science and Technology Publishing Company, Shanghai

  5. Kantawanichkul S, Kladprasert S, Brix H (2009) Treatment of high-strength wastewater in tropical vertical flow constructed wetlands planted with Typha angustifolia and Cyperus involucratus. Ecol Eng 35:238–247

  6. Konnerup D, Thammarat Koottatep T, Brix H (2009) Treatment of domestic wastewater in tropical, subsurface flow constructed wetlands planted with Canna and Heliconia. Ecol Eng 35:248–257

  7. Langergraber G, Leroch K, Pressl A, Sleytr K, Rohrhofer R, Haberl R (2009) High-rate nitrogen removal in a two-stage subsurface vertical flow constructed wetland. Desalination 24:5–6

  8. Li LF, Li YH, Biswas DK, Nian YG, Jiang G (2008) Potential of constructed wetlands in treating the eutrophic water: evidence from Taihu Lake of China. Bioresour Technol 99:1656–1663

  9. Luederitz V, Eckert E, Lange-Weber M, Lange A, Gersberg RM (2001) Nutrient removal efficiency and resource economics of vertical flow and horizontal flow constructed wetlands. Ecol Eng 18:157–171

  10. OECD (1996) Guidelines for testing of chemicals simulation test-aerobic sewage treatment. Technical Report. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Paris

  11. Prochaska CA, Zouboulis AI (2006) Removal of phosphates by pilot vertical-flow constructed wetlands using a mixture of sand and dolomite as substrate. Ecol Eng 26:293–303

  12. SPSS (2003) Analytical software. SPSS Inc., Chicago

  13. Ugurlu A, Yalcuk A (2009) Comparison of horizontal and vertical constructed wetland systems for landfill leachate treatment. Bioresour Technol 100:2521–2526

  14. Vymazal J (2005) Horizontal sub-surface flow and hybrid constructed wetlands systems for wastewater treatment. Ecol Eng 25:478–490

  15. Vymazal J, Kropfelova L (2011) A three-stage experimental constructed wetland for treatment of domestic sewage: first 2 years of operation. Ecol Eng 37:90–98

  16. Weber D, Drizo Twohig E, Bird S, Ross D (2007) Upgrading constructed wetlands phosphorus reduction from a dairy effluent using EAF steel slag filters. Water Sci Technol 56:135–143

  17. Weber M, Brändle R (1996) Some aspects of the extreme anoxia tolerance of the sweet flag, Acorus calamus. L Folia Geobotanica Phytotaxonomica 31:37–46

  18. Werker AG, Dougherty JM, McHenry JL, Van Loon WA (2002) Treatment variability for wetland wastewater treatment design in cold climates. Ecol Eng 19:1–11

  19. Xing MY, Li XW, Yang J (2010) Treatment performance of small-scale vermifilter for domestic wastewater and its relationship to earthworm growth, reproduction and enzymatic activity. Afr J Biotechnol 9:7513–7520

  20. Yan C, Zhang H, Li B, Wang D, Zhao YJ, Zheng Z (2012) Effects of influent C/N ratios on CO2 and CH4 emissions from vertical subsurface flow constructed wetlands treating synthetic municipal wastewater. J Hazard Mater 203–204:188–194

  21. Zhou Y, Chen ZM, Chen B, Zhou JB, Li Z, Xi XR, Lin C, Chen GQ (2008) A vertical subsurface-flow constructed wetland in Beijing. Comm Nonlinear Sci 13:1986–1997

Download references


We thank colleagues and students from Fudan University for maintaining the experimental systems during the research period. This study was financially supported by the National Water Special Project of China (No. 2008ZX07101-001-04) and Postdoctoral Foundation of China (No. 332 2012 M511040).

Author information

Correspondence to Shou-Bing Wang.

Additional information

Responsible editor: Hailong Wang

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Zhao, Y., Cheng, P., Pei, X. et al. Performance of hybrid vertical up- and downflow subsurface flow constructed wetlands in treating synthetic high-strength wastewater. Environ Sci Pollut Res 20, 4886–4894 (2013).

Download citation


  • Chemical oxygen demand removal
  • Total nitrogen removal
  • Total phosphorus removal
  • Seasonal variation
  • Vertical upflow
  • Vertical downflow