Evaluation of the nutrient removal efficiency of a constructed wetland system



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Texas A&M University


In north central Texas, USA, free-water surface wetlands have been constructed to treat pre-treated wastewater effluent from the Trinity River. Water quality and vegetation data from the first two years of operation (June 2003 to May 2005) were used to determine cell-to-cell and system-wide removal efficiency of total suspended solids (TSS), total phosphorus (TP) and total nitrogen (TN). The wetland system consisted of one non-vegetated sedimentation basin and a series of four connected, vegetated wetland cells. Temporal analyses displayed varying monthly, seasonal and yearly trends of the wetlands?????? concentration of the three parameters. Spatial analysis results confirmed that TSS, TP and TN concentrations were greater at the beginning of the system as compared to the end of the wetland system. Percent reduction analyses showed that the second wetland cell (WC2) was the most efficient in TSS, TP and TN removal, while the last wetland cell (WC4) had the lowest reduction of the three parameters. TSS removal was significant (???? = 0.05) moving consecutively among the sites in the wetland system, with exception to the last wetland cell. TP removal was only significant (???? = 0.05) moving from the third wetland cell (WC3) to WC4, while TN removal was significant (???? = 0.05) moving from the sedimentation basin to the first wetland cell (WC1) and then again moving from WC3 to WC4. Overall removal efficiency of the wetland system (from the Trinity River to WC4) was quite high, with reductions over 97% for TSS, 47% for TP and 67% for TN. N:P ratios decreased moving consecutively throughout the field-scale wetlands. Vegetation analyses found WCs 1 and 3 to contain the greatest vegetation species richness, while WC2 had the lowest richness. The vegetative composition of the four cells was mostly the same. A comparison was conducted between the nutrient reduction efficiency and vegetation data of this wetland system with data from a pilotscale wetland system that was operated from 1992 to 2000. The findings of this study suggest that during the first two years of operation, the wetland system??????s performance is comparable to the pilot-scale wetlands which were operated for eight years.