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Nitrogen Removal in Experimental Wetland Treatment Systems: Evidence for the Role of Aquatic Plants

K. H. Rogers, P. F. Breen and A. J. Chick
Research Journal of the Water Pollution Control Federation
Vol. 63, No. 7 (Nov. - Dec., 1991), pp. 934-941
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25044090
Page Count: 8
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Nitrogen Removal in Experimental Wetland Treatment Systems: Evidence for the Role of Aquatic Plants
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Abstract

Small experimental wetlands, with contrasting up- and downflow (vertical) hydraulic formats and colonized by Schoenoplectus validus, were supplied with increasing volumes and concentrations of nitrogen-rich, primary, settled wastewater until apparently overloaded. Loads reached six times that reported in the literature to have been successfully treated in trench systems, but in all treatments plant uptake was responsible for more than 90% of the nitrogen removal. This was despite marked oxygenation of the gravel substratum by plant roots, which is usually reported to enhance nitrogen loss by promoting microbial nitrification/denitrification. Unplanted gravel systems were inefficient and rapidly became overloaded. Artificial wetlands cannot be equated to conventional activated sludge or trickling filter systems as has been suggested in the literature. A greater emphasis on proper mass balance studies and the role of aquatic plants is needed if a predictive understanding of wetland wastewater treatment is to be developed.

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