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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Constructed Wetlands for the Removal of Contaminants

Authors
item Ibekwe, Abasiofiok
item Lyon, Stephen - ORANGE CTY WATER DIST

Submitted to: Watershed Management Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: July 20, 2003
Publication Date: November 8, 2003
Citation: Ibekwe, A.M., Lyon, S.R. 2003. Constructed wetlands for the removal of contaminants. Proceedings of Watershed Management Conference, Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Environmental Regulations-II:477-485.

Interpretive Summary: The main objective for the establishment of constructed wetlands is to use the final effluent for irrigation and or for disposal into other bodies of water. In this study, the wetland effluent was more suitable for on-site reuse and has reduced the amount of contaminants entering groundwater supplies as a result of percolation of the washwater stored in ponds and sprayed on disposal lands. The removal of the main pollutants from the dairy washwater has a beneficial impact on the surface and groundwater in the Chino Basin, and, in turn, has improved the quality of water leading into the Santa Ana River and the Orange County groundwater basin. Data from our study showed that different kinds of bacteria are involved in the treatment process in the wetlands, ultimately influencing the final effluent water quality. The wetland project has served as an innovative model for waste management for the dairy industry and other confined animal facilities by providing a cost-effective, low-maintenance process that can be independently built and managed.

Technical Abstract: Surface- and ground-water quality in the Chino-Santa Ana River Basin, California is a major source of drinking water supply for the Los Angeles metropolitan area. This water source is significantly degraded due to intensive dairy operations and the disposal of untreated wastewater into the Chino Basin. Constructed wetlands have been recognized as a treatment option for the removal of high concentrations of contaminants in agricultural waste water prior to land application. The goal of this study was to characterize the fate and transport of chemical contaminants and pathogens in a constructed wetland system and to determine the diversity of ammonia oxidizing bacteria that were responsible for nitrogen mineralization in the wetlands. Water samples were collected weekly for 11 months from two wetlands to determine the efficiency of the treatment system in removal of chemical contaminants, total/fecal coliforms and Escherichia coli. Reduction by the treatment was greatest for biological oxygen demand (BOD), suspended solids, chemical oxygen demand (COD), nitrate, and coliforms. There was only moderate removal of total nitrogen and phosphorus. The population of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria showed a higher percentage of Nitrosospira-like sequences from the wetland samples, compared to a higher percentage of Nitrosomonas-like sequences from manure, feces, raw washwater and facultative pond. These results demonstrate that the wetland sy stem is a natural process dependent upon the development and maintenance of healthy microbial communities for optimal wastewater treatment in reducing dairy waste in the Santa Ana watershed quality.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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