Submitted to: Society of Wetland Scientists
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 16, 2004
Publication Date: July 30, 2004
Citation: Cooper, C.M., Moore, M.T., Testa III, S., Smith Jr., S. 2004. Agricultural treatment wetlands: Tons of prevention, cohorts of cure [abstract]. Society of Wetland Scientists. Charting the Future: A Quarter Century of Lessons Learned. p. 193. Technical Abstract: Agriculture has been one of the dominant sources of sediment and other contaminants that have affected water quality and ecology of our streams, rivers, lakes, estuaries and oceans. Following major losses of natural wetlands during the last two centuries, contaminants have often been transported into waters via direct transmission, and mitigation, transformation and trapping functions of natural wetlands have been removed. Constructed wetlands have been recognized for the powerful role they can perform where natural wetlands are missing, including agricultural settings for food and fiber production. Since the mid 1980's, USDA's Water Quality and Ecological Processes Research Unit of the Agricultural Research Service National Sedimentation Laboratory has helped pioneer preventative techniques for limiting agricultural impacts through the use of small impoundments and constructed wetlands. Areas of research have included sediment, nutrients, organics, bacteria, herbicides and insecticides. Wetland influence on contaminated water flow rates, temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, pH, total solids, dissolved solids, suspended solids, filterable ortho-phosphorus, total phosphorus, ammonia nitrogen, nitrate nitrogen, total chlorophyll, chlorophyll a, sediment redox potential, carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand, chemical oxygen demand, and total coliforms has been quantified. Wetland pesticide trapping and transformation have been documented for chlorpyrifos, atrazine, metolachlor, lambda-cyhalothrin, bifenthrin, methyl parathion, and esfenvalerate. Biological studies have documented positive ecological benefits of constructed agricultural ponds and wetlands to amphibians, reptiles, fish, small mammals and birds. Currently microcosm, mesocosm and field-scale projects seek to provide better understanding of processes occurring in agricultural treatment wetlands and refine engineering techniques for their implementation.