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Research article2011Peer reviewedOpen access

Potential of organic filter materials for treating greywater to achieve irrigation quality: a review

Dalahmeh, Sahar; Hylander, Lars.H; Vinnerås, Björn; Pell, Mikael; Öborn, Ingrid; Jönsson, Håkan


The objectives of this literature review were to: (i) evaluate the impact of greywater generated in rural communities, with the emphasis on Jordanian conditions, on soil, plant and public health and assess the need for treatment of this greywater before it is used for irrigation, and (ii) assess the potential of different types of organic by-products as carrier material in different filter units for removal of pollutants from greywater. Greywater with high BOD(5), COD, high concentrations of SS, fat, oil and grease and high levels of surfactants is commonly found in rural areas in Jordan. Oxygen depletion, odour emission, hydrophobic soil phenomena, plant toxicity, blockage of piping systems and microbiological health risks are common problems associated with greywater without previous treatment. Organic by-products such as wood chips, bark, peat, wheat straw and corncob may be used as carrier material in so-called mulch filters for treating wastewater and greywater from different sources. A down-flow-mode vertical filter is a common setup used in mulch filters. Wastewaters with a wide range of SS, cBOD(5) and COD fed into different mulch filters have been studied. The different mulch materials achieved SS removal ranging between 51 and 91%, a BOD(5) reduction range of 55-99.9%, and COD removal of 51-98%. Most types of mulches achieved a higher organic matter removal than that achieved by an ordinary septic tank. Bark, peat and wood chips filters removed organic matter better than sand and trickling filters, under similar conditions. Release of filter material and increase in COD in the effluent was reported using some mulch materials. In conclusion, some mulch materials such as bark, peat and woodchips seem to have a great potential for treatment of greywater in robust, low-tech systems. They can be expected to be resilient in dealing with variable low and high organic loads and shock loads.


bark; greywater; mulch; organic by-products; peat; straw; wood chips

Published in

Water Science and Technology
2011, Volume: 63, number: 9, pages: 1832-1840