Planted Drying Beds

A Planted Drying Bed is similar to an Unplanted Drying Bed with the benefit of increased transpiration. The key feature is that the filters do not need to be desludged after each feeding/drying cycle. Fresh sludge can be applied directly onto the previous layer; it is the plants and their root systems that maintain the porosity of the filter. This technology has the benefit of dewatering as well as stabilizing the sludge. Also, the roots of the plants create pathways through the thickening sludge to allow water to escape more easily. The appearance of the bed is similar to a Vertical Flow Constructed Wetland. The beds are filled with sand and gravel to support the vegetation. Instead of effluent, sludge is applied to the surface and the filtrate flows down through the subsurface to collect in drains. A general design for layering the bed is: (1) 250mm of coarse gravel (grain diameter of 20mm); (2) 250mm of fine gravel (grain diameter of 5 mm); and (3) 100–150mm of sand. Free space (1m) should be left above the top of the sand layer to account for about 3 to 5 years of accumulation. When the bed is constructed, the plants should be planted evenly and allowed to establish themselves before the sludge is applied. Echinochloa pyramidalis, Cattails or Phragmites are suitable plants depending on the climate. Sludge should be applied in layers between 75 to 100mm and should be reapplied every 3 to 7 days depending on the sludge characteristics, the environment and operating constraints. Sludge application rates of up to 250kg/m2/year have been reported. The sludge can be removed after 2 to 3 years (although the degree of hygienization will vary with climate) and used for agriculture.

Relevant options

None of the options were relevant for Planted Drying Beds.