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Constructed Floating treatment wetlands: can they improve water quality in a northern USA climate?

International Journal of Hydrology
Mattias Oddsson,1  Emily Deering,2 Ren Ortega,3 Joe Magner1


Constructed floating treatment wetlands (FTWs) are a best management practice (BMP) applied in aquatic environments to improve water quality by mitigating nutrient pollution. We evaluated the efficacy of FTWs in Minnesota, USA as a tool for the removal of excess nutrients in surface water to enhance water quality. We began with a 2015 outdoor mesocosm study to quantify the removal efficiency of total phosphorus (TP), orthophosphate-P (PO4 -P), nitrate-N, and ammonia-N. The FTWs were each planted with wetland plants Juncus effusus, Eleocharis acicularis, and Glyceria canadensis. A paired controlled TP budget was prepared to identify mesocosm sources and sinks. Mesocosm FTWs showed higher PO4 -P reduction efficiencies than the control mesocosms. Mesocosms with FTWs had significantly lower pH and dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations. Water quality measurements were made along with qualitative observations, such as durability, at two different field scales where FTWs were installed in a pond and lake in 2016. Field deployed FTWs showed measurable changes in several water quality parameters over the study period. Statistically significant reductions were observed in PO4 -P, DO, and pH for the pond site but not at the lake site. Though positive results were observed, factors other than FTWs may better explain the field deployed FTW results. Overall, the high FTW spatial coverage (15%) in the mesocosms showed clear PO4 -P removal, whereas low FTW spatial coverage (<1%) of the field scale surface water was likely the most limiting factor to achieving optimal water quality at the study sites and rather than individual FTW performance. 


floating treatment wetland island, nutrients, lake eutrophication