The objective of this study was to apply hydraulic and chemical oxygen demand (COD) loading rates at the upper limits of the design criteria for buried sand filters to test the sand filter depth design criteria. Over a 274-day study duration, synthetic effluent with a strength of domestic wastewater was intermittently dosed onto two sand filters of 0.2 m diameter, with depths of 0.3 and 0.4 m. Hydraulic and organic carbon loading rates of 105 L m-2 d-1 and 40 g COD m-2 d-1, respectively, were applied to the filters. The filters did not clog and had good effluent removal capabilities for 274 and 190 days, respectively. However, the 0.3 m-deep filter did experience a reduced performance towards the end of the study period. In the 0.3 and 0.4 m-deep filters, the effluent COD and SS concentrations were less than 86 and 31 mg L-1, respectively, and nitrification was nearly complete in both these columns. Ortho-phosphorus (PO4-P) removal in fine sand and laterite 'upflow' filters, receiving effluent from the 0.3 m-deep filter, was 10% and 44%, respectively.