Wetlands are the link between land and water, occasionally breaking away and becoming floating islands of vegetation. Although all we see is grass and shrubbery, below the water's surface the wetlands are performing important functions for people and wildlife. The benefits were the inspiration behind a new water treatment technology.
Not only do the wetlands filter, clean and store water, but they also provide habitat for more than one-third of the federally listed species on the Endangers Species Act. With that in mind, a team of researchers from Saint Francis University in Pennsylvania and the University of Oklahoma built their own floating wetlands at a model wastewater plant to see if they would affect water quality.
Treating wastewater is highly complex and requires processing the nitrogen it contains. Results from the three year study show the floating wetlands were able to do so through a combination of different factors.
Researchers believe the wetlands could be taking up some of the contaminants in the water. They aren't sure what biological and chemical mechanisms are responsible, but say microbes may have the biggest effect. Microbes, like bacteria, thrive at the base and roots of the floating wetlands where they break down and absorb the nitrogen and phosphorous.
Floating wetlands can also help manage algal blooms in drinking water reservoirs and coastal ponds by helping regulate water temperature and solar radiation. Algal blooms are difficult to control and can clog water filters due to lower levels of oxygen in the water, which can kill fish.
Researchers note that it would take a high-coverage floating wetland to drive positive effects in water treatment. However, since little research has been done they must continue how to better construct these wetlands to maximize results.
To assist in compliance with local and federal regulations, MadgeTech offers a variety of data loggers for water treatment solutions. From monitoring water level and temperature, to water pressure and flow, MadgeTech data loggers can ensure water treatment systems are operating as intended. To view the entire line of data loggers specifically for wastewater treatment, click here.
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