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5.

4 MATURATION RIVERS
5.4.1 INTRODUCTION
Maturation rivers are essentially maturation ponds fitted with flow baffles to prevent short-circuiting and
ensure plug flow. The pond is normally divided into a number of channels in multiple forward and return
passes, to ensure a reasonable forward velocity and prevent back-mixing.

Although maturation rivers have been installed as tertiary treatment at a number of mechanical plants,
their success has been variable due to accumulation of solids, particularly in the first pass. For this
reason it is recommended that they only be used as the final pond in a series of two or more, whether
preceded by a mechanical plant or by a pond system.

Maturation rivers are suitable for bacterial die-off, but their main advantage is that the absence of short-
circuiting and back-mixing, and maintenance of plug flow conditions, eliminates the re-inoculation of
incoming water with algae and the final effluent from the system therefore has a low algal count and a
relatively low suspended solids.

5.4.2 DESIGN
For similar reasons as those pertaining to ponds, maturation rivers should not be less than 1 m deep and
the normal recommendations of a 1 to 1.5 m depth applies. The shape of the pond should suit the land
and a limited number of long passes is equally acceptable as a larger number of short passes. For cost
reasons the width of the channel is important as narrow channels would imply a large number of dividing
walls, and very wide channels would allow back mixing.

Design criteria are not that well established but most maturation rivers constructed to date have had
approximately a 2 day (48 hour) retention (longer retentions involve higher cost and may give algae long
enough to increase in numbers), with a channel forward velocity of 1 to 2 mm/s (3.6 to 7.2 m/h).

The dividing walls need not be watertight or load-bearing. Prefabricated concrete fencing has been used
successfully.

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