IWA Publishing

Stormwater nitrogen removal performance of a floating treatment wetland

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The nitrogen (N) removal efficiency and effluent quality of two parallel stormwater retention ponds, one retrofitted with a floating treatment wetland (FTW) and one without any vegetation, was compared in a field trial. This study shows that inclusion of FTWs in stormwater retention ponds has potential to moderately improve N removal. Median FTW outlet event mean concentrations (EMCs) were lower than median inlet and control pond outlet EMCs for all species of N, except for NH4-N. Performance was statistically better from late spring to end autumn due to higher organic nitrogen (ON) removal and denitrification in presence of the FTW. Low dissolved oxygen (DO), higher temperature and increased organic matter (OM) and microbial activity below the FTW, likely facilitated the higher denitrification rates observed over this period. Greater sediment N accumulation in the FTW pond also contributed to its higher overall N removal. Higher OM availability in the FTW pond due to release of root exudates and supply of detritus from plant die-back may have contributed to floc formation in the water column, increasing particulate ON settlement. Enhanced ON mineralisation may also be responsible but was probably limited in summer due to the low DO induced by the FTW. Direct uptake by the plants appears to be of less importance.

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