Designing a constructed wetland for the detention of agricultural runoff for water quality improvement
Received for publication December 18, 2008. The goal of this study was to construct a wetland that would detain runoff from a 162-ha watershed for the purposes of improving water quality. The volume of runoff that needed to be detained was determined to be that amount coming off the 162-ha watershed consisting of 146 ha of cultivated crop land and 16 ha of pasture that exceeded the amount that would have come off of the watershed in its natural, forested state. The Soil Conservation Service (now the Natural Resource Conservation Service [NRCS]) runoff curve number method was used to estimate runoff from the watershed in its natural, forested state and in its current state of cultivated crop land and pasture. The design of the constructed wetland was accomplished using the natural topography of the wetland site and the design criteria for a sediment containment system developed by NRCS. The SPAW (Soil-Plant-Atmosphere–Water Field & Pond Hydrology) computer model was used to model depth and volume in the wetland to determine if the constructed wetland design would accommodate typical runoff events. Construction of the wetland occurred over a 4-mo period. The capabilities of the system were verified when Hurricane Rita deposited above-normal rainfall to the wetland site area. The wetland was able to accommodate this event, allowing flow through the system for 9 d, followed by continued detention of remaining runoff for water quality improvement.