Home\Educate\Water Reuse 101\Research Projects\Year\2011\Evaluate Wetland Systems for Treated Wastewater Performance to Meet Competing Effluent Water Quality Goals

Evaluate Wetland Systems for Treated Wastewater Performance to Meet Competing Effluent Water Quality Goals

Project: 05-06
Type: Scientific Investigation
Year Released: 2011

Program: Principal
Funding Partners: Bureau of Reclamation, South Florida Water Management District
Total Investment: $199,999.91 (Cash)

Principal Investigators: Bryan W. Brooks, Ph.D., Baylor University, C. Kevin Chambliss, Ph.D., Baylor University, David L. Sedlak, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, and Robert L. Knight, Ph.D., Wetland Solutions, Inc.


Scientific advances have facilitated documentation of effects of trace level wastewater-derived organic compounds (WDOCs) on biota. Potential for adverse ecological effects in effluent-dominated receiving waters raise questions about treated effluent used for augmentation of aquatic habitats and safety of intentional and unintentional indirect potable water reuse. A growing body of research data indicates that constructed treatment wetlands may be effective for reducing the concentrations of a variety of WDOCs.

Goals and Objectives

The Wetland System Evaluation Project developed a design and performance matrix for known pollutants in surface-flow and subsurface-flow constructed wetland systems, including biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), total suspended solids (TSS), nutrients, pathogens, and wastewater-derived organic compounds (WDOCs). This objective also includes the identification of specific chemicals to best represent or act as surrogates for various classes of pollutants and WDOCs.

Research Approach

Although this project is not expected to answer all of the many questions related to the use of wetlands for water quality improvement, it is intended to provide an assessment of the current state of our knowledge about the effectiveness of these natural treatment systems to meet water quality goals.

Findings and Conclusions

Research and analyses undertaken by this project supports continuing consideration of constructed wetlands as an option for providing polishing treatment to protect aquatic ecosystems and potable water supplies. The findings of the project indicate that constructed wetlands can be used to consistently and cost effectively reduce concentrations of conventional pollutants remaining in reclaimed wastewaters and can also further reduce levels of certain WDOCs.

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