Using a process-based approach, a pilot-scale constructed wetland system was designed and built for treating water produced from an oil field in sub-Saharan Africa. The characteristics of the oil field-produced water were compared with water quality guidelines for irrigating crops and watering livestock to identify constituents of concern (COC) requiring treatment. The COC identified in the produced water include oil, grease, and metals (Zn, Ni, Fe, Mn). A pilot-scale constructed wetland treatment system was then designed and built based on biogeochemical pathways (i.e., sorption, oxidation, and reduction) for transferring and transforming the identified COC to achieve target concentrations meeting water quality guidelines. The pilot-scale treatment system consisted of three series of wetland cells, with four cells in each series. Two series of subsurface flow wetland cells were constructed with each cell having a two-layer hydrosoil of pea gravel and medium-size gravel planted with Phragmites australis. In addition, a series of free water surface wetland cells was constructed, with each cell containing sandy hydrosoil and planted with Typha latifolia. The design allows adjustment of parameters (i.e., hydraulic retention time and organic content of the hydrosoil) to promote the conditions needed to achieve treatment of COC through the identified biogeochemical pathways. This study provides an example of the design and construction of a pilot-scale wetland treatment system using a process-based approach.

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