I. Mina1, M.J. Ferreira2

1Universidade do Minho (PORTUGAL)
With the establishing of Water Framework Directive, we have assisted in Portugal to an increased of low-technology systems, such as macrophytes beds (MBs), integrated as secondary treatment in wastewater treatment plants (WWTP). Despite some less successful cases, several municipalities or responsible companies opted for the construction of these “FitoETARs” to solve the sanitation problems of small and isolated rural localities. As these ecosystems are always singular ones, the biological data are very informative. However, currently, microbiological analysis is restricted and biocenoses characterization is not available. Referring some monitoring programmes we have performed in FitoETARs near University of Minho (UM), we present the potential of biological research to improve FitoETARs performance. Combining monitoring programmes with microcosms’ assays, in situ or in the laboratory, a set of methodologies, that may include traditional microbiological analysis, molecular analysis and microscopy analysis, may be used to characterize the biocenose or biotic communities. A holistic view of the processes occurring in MB of FitoETARs is only possible with the blending of knowledge of engineers and biologists. An efficient design must consider, the substratum choice, the appropriated hydraulic flow, the knowledge of the rhizosphere’ biota, and the choice of the plants. With the know-how achieved with the monitoring programmes and experimental studies performed we are offering formation in these issues. Integrating the continuing training programmes of the School of Science of UM (, our course about, “Oxidation Ponds and FitoETARs – Ecology, Conception and Design”, has attracted a diverse public that includes, wastewater treatment plant’s professionals, professors and even general public. The cooperation between engineers, biologists, and even other areas specialists, may contribute to the FitoETARs success and may enhance a wide public divulgation, which have been very shy.