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Even though the Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC, concerning urban wastewater (WW) treatment, forces to treat sewage, there are a lot of small and medium size towns without this service. In addition, many of them cannot deal with energy and maintenance costs of conventional treatment plants making them unsustainable and uneconomic (EC, 2011).

Constructed wetlands (CWs), in contrast to natural wetlands, are man-made systems or engineered wetlands that are designed, built and operated to emulate functions of natural wetlands for human desires and needs. Mainly, CWs are established for the purpose of contaminant or pollutant removal from wastewater.

The HIGHWET project, funded recently in FP7-SME-2013 call (Grant Agreement Nº: 605445), aims to perform and validate new approaches of HCW and VCW including innovative materials as gravel bed and aeration devices for increasing biological development by implementing hybrid configurations (anaerobic - CW systems) for decreasing required surface of conventional horizontal CWs.


The outcomes of the project will be the performance of holistic HIGHWET systems capable of operating at high loading rates treating municipal and industrial WW. Furthermore, new operation strategies will be carried out in order to avoid the gravel bed clogging and extend the lifetime of the systems


The benefits of HIGHWET systems are detailed as following:

  • Increase the capacity for treating high organic load WW or high WW flows. This will permit to treat F&B industrial WW, urban WW of populations from 2,000 up to 5,000 PE and/or livestock farms WW using smaller areas.
  • Reduce the required surface making CWs more attractive and suitable for customers with less available space. In addition, construction costs will be reduced remarkably.
  • Increase the removal efficiency of organic and nutrient matter, even the pathogens.
  • Life time of the CWs will be increased since clogging problems will be delayed.
  • Demonstrable impact advantages to the environment via treating industrial, livestock and municipal WW which are nowadays are being discharged without or with an insufficient treatment.