April 2007, Vol. 19, No.4

Water Volumes

Natural Wastewater Treatment Systems

Ronald W. Crites, E. Joe Middlebrooks, and Sherwood C. Reed (2006). CRC Press LLC, 2000 N.W. Corporate Blvd., Boca Raton, FL 33431, 552 pp., $170, hardcover, ISBN 0-8493-3804-2.

This book covers wastewater management processes that provide passive treatment; require minimal mechanical elements, energy, and chemicals; and minimize solids production. It includes integration and updates of several previous publications on wastewater; biosolids land application; free surface, subsurface, and vertical flow constructed wetlands; wastewater pond systems; and natural systems for waste treatment, as well as a condensed section on onsite wastewater systems.

The first part of the book, which focuses on feasibility and site selection for land application projects, highlights the key issues planners and engineers need to consider when assessing the appropriateness of these projects. The authors go on to describe groundwater flow, mounding, and pollution removal mechanisms in soils, and engineered unit processes. Nutrients, pathogens, metals, and industrial chemicals are addressed.

The book presents a variety of techniques for wastewater pond systems, including facultative, anaerobic, and aerated ponds, as well as several proprietary pond technologies for enhanced performance. The authors also describe the range of activated sludge options that can be adapted to ponds, including fixed film, extended aeration, integrated activated sludge and fixed film, sequencing batch reactor, and membrane bioreactor adaptations.

Two chapters are devoted to constructed wetlands and subsurface and vertical-flow constructed flow. Both offer extensive descriptions of the technology and design process, equations, and a review of some operating facilities.

The final chapters of the book delve into land application, solids management, and onsite systems. The authors discuss three land application options — slow rate (spray irrigation), overland flow, and soil aquifer treatment (rapid infiltration) — as well as guidelines and engineering information for municipal and industrial applications. The solids management section reviews a variety of options, including freezing, vermistabilization, composting, and land application — which receives significant attention. The books ends with a review of onsite wastewater treatment systems, including site evaluations, treatment technologies (such as nitrogen and phosphorus removal), and dispersal options.

This book is a good reference text. It covers the spectrum of natural wastewater management options.


Pio Lombardo is an environmental engineer at Lombardo Associates Inc. (Newton, Mass.).