Assessment of on-site wastewater treatment systems in unsewered communities in Jordan
Abstract: Centralized wastewater treatment systems need substantial funds besides high-cost operation and maintenance programs, which could be considered unsuitable for low-income developing countries. As a solution, it becomes the trend towards on-site wastewater treatment systems (OWTs) due to its cost-effectiveness and flexibility of implementation and management. However, the keenness to implement these systems appropriately and monitor them continually is crucial to ensure that they do not impact the surrounding environment and human health. Constructed wetland is one of the on-site wastewater treatment systems. These systems are comparatively affordable alternative technology, and adequate systems for small communities, rural, and hilly areas. In the present study, two constructed wetlands as on-site wastewater treatment systems in Sakib - Jerash Governorate, Jordan, were investigated regarding systems performance, social acceptance, and cost-benefit analysis. The first system is a vertical flow constructed wetland (VCW) that has been operating since January 2020. The second system is a recirculation vertical flow constructed wetland (RVCW) that has been in operation since July 2015. The checking of the theoretical design parameter and the actual loading conditions of the septic tanks and wetlands in both systems showed that both implemented septic tanks and the wetlands are adequate and appropriate for the design goals. The wetlands’ treatment performance showed sufficient capability in organic matter removal efficiencies: Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) and Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), and Total Suspended Solids (TSS) removal efficiency. For pathogens: Total Coliform (TC) and Escherichia coli (E.coli), even though the removal efficiency was high, the effluents' values exceeded the local directive. Concerning nutrients removal, both systems showed low nitrogen and phosphorus removal efficiencies. Some suggestions and recommendations were proposed for improving nutrients removal and pathogen removal efficiencies. These recommendations were in desludging the septic tanks, replacing the filtering media, introduce plantation or add other carbon sources to the system, and using an additional aerobic filtration unit in the wetlands’ outlets. The study showed that the Jordanian society's nonacceptance of the on-site wastewater treatment systems could be handled through full transparency, educational workshops, and public participation. The latter contributed an increased sense of ownership robustly and increased concern of responsibilities on the operational and maintenance matters. Regarding the cost-benefit analysis, the study results demonstrated that the implementation of a constructed wetland as an on-site wastewater treatment system could be a beneficial and valuable alternative for clusters in rural areas and even in newly urbanized plans. The promising method for the treated wastewater's disinfection using clay minerals needs further investigation to determine the optimum clay mineral concentration on treatment and the needed time for exposure.
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