Constructed Wetlands in Queensland: Performance Efficiency and Nutrient Bioaccomulation

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Greenway, M
Woolley, A
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1999
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Nine pilot wetlands (eight free water surface and one subsurface flow) have been constructed in Queensland as joint projects between the State and Local Governments, to treat municipal wastewater. The wetlands are in several geographical locations which include tropical, subtropical and arid climates. Each wetland is a different configuration and contains a variety of macrophyte types and species. Most species are native and were collected in the locality or self colonised. This paper examines the performance efficiency of the wetlands and nutrient bioaccumulation in wetland plants. Biochemical oxygen demand concentrations were reduced by 17–89% and suspended solids concentrations by 14–77% to produce wetland effluent with BOD less than 12 mg l−1 and suspended solids less than 22 mg l−1. Reduction in total nitrogen concentrations ranged from 18 to 86%, ammonia nitrogen from 8 to 95% and oxidised nitrogen from 55 to 98%, producing effluent with total nitrogen between 1.6 and 18 mg l−1. Reduction in reactive phosphorus concentration was less than 13% in the free water surface systems with concentration in the effluent exceeding the influent in many of the systems over long term operation. In contrast reduction through the single household subsurface system was 65%. Nutrient bioaccumulation was investigated in 60 species. Submerged (Ceratophyllum) and free floating species (duckweed) had the highest tissue nutrient concentrations, followed by the waterlily (Nymphoides indica), aquatic vines (Ipomoea spp., Ludwigia peploides), and waterferns (Ceratopteris, Marsilea). All these species remove nutrients from the water column. Emergent species had lower nutrient concentrations with the highest nutrients occurring in the exotic sedge Cyperus involucratus. Aquatic grasses including Phragmites had higher nutrient content than the sedges. Nitrogen concentrations were higher in leaf/stem tissue compared to the root/rhizome, whereas phosphorus was higher in root/rhizome tissue. Emergent species had a greater biomass than submerged or free floating species and were therefore able to store more nutrients per unit area of wetland. Cropping the shoots of emergent species increased nutrient content in new shoot growth.

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Ecological Engineering
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12
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1-Feb
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Earth sciences
Environmental sciences
Engineering
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