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Kevin Killigrew, Dr. Rachel Schultz, Dr. Michael Chislock
A significant threat that watersheds face is nutrient pollution, particularly excess phosphorus in freshwater systems. Floating treatment wetlands (FTWs) can remove excess phosphorus by plant and microbial uptake directly in the water column. We examined phosphorus removal rates in a mesocosm setting using different combinations of four wetland plant species native to northeastern North America; Carex stricta (tussock sedge), Iris versicolor (northern blue flag), Juncus effusus (common rush), and Eleocharis palustris (common spikerush), two different substrate conditions; no substrate and coconut coir, and a control with no plants or substrate. Each substrate was paired with three different plant combinations, tussock species (Carex stricta and Iris versicolor), reed species (Juncus effusus and Eleocharis palustris), and a mixture. We determined the total phosphorus and orthophosphate removal rates along with changes over time in chlorophyll-a, phycocyanin, dissolved oxygen, specific conductivity, and pH. Based on our results from week 1 and week 7 of this 9-week experiment, we found that tussock species with coconut peat substrate had the highest mean total phosphorus removal percentage at 76%. All three plant combinations with coconut peat substrate had mean removal percentages greater than 70%, while only one plant combination with no substrate had removal percentages over 70%. The treatment with the lowest total phosphorus removal percentage was the control at 55% removal. Future directions of this study include a field application of FTWs to determine nitrogen and phosphorus removal rates in aquaculture ponds, and testing the efficacy of transplanting FTW plants into wetlands to extend their lifecycle.
Conference Presentation, SER2021
Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program