A conventional activated sludge treatment facility was the subject of this study. The assessment was directed at determining the characteristics of the raw wastewater, the quality of the treated effluent and the efficiency of the various treatment units. Furthermore, the water quality along the effluent irrigation canal was monitored. The assessment of the quality of the treated effluent for irrigation is based on the guidelines established by the World Health Organization and the Egyptian decree 9/89 for the use of wastewater in agriculture. The results of the study indicated that the concentration of the raw wastewater was considered moderate. The mean values of the COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand), BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand) and total suspended solids (TSS) were around 250, 102 and 142 mg l−1, respectively. This was attributed to the high quantities of wastewater from industrial sources. The overall efficiency of the treatment facility was good. The mean residual COD, BOD and TSS were 25, 8 and 21 mg l−1 and the corresponding percentage removal values were 90, 92 and 85%, respectively. The maximum percentage removal of oil and grease was 84% with a mean residual concentration of 24 mg l−1. The total viable count (22°C and 37°C), faecal coliform and aecal streptococci were reduced by 99.9% compared to only 99.5% for Salmonella. Bacteriological examination of the dried sludge indicated a reduction of nine logs of faecal coliform and faecal streptococci, as compared to thickened sludge. Analysis of the Ni, Cu, Pb and Cr in the dried sludge indicated that their concentrations are within the permissible limits. Zinc exceeded the consent standards by 50%. The results of the analyses of samples collected at the beginning of the irrigation canal indicated insignificant changes from the characteristics of the final effluent. Samples collected at a distance of 2km along the irrigation canal showed mean reductions in the COD and BOD of 28.6 and 47%, respectively, which could be attributed to sedimentation and/or a self-purification effect. An increase in the total nitrogen, total phosphorus and total viable count was also recorded, which could be due to seepage from the agricultural land. From the data available it is evident that the treated wastewater could be used for restricted irrigation. The design and implementation of a monitoring programme is recommended.