Development of the Urban Wetland Filter for Managing Phosphorus in Stormwater
Rosenquist, Shawn Eric
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Degradation of surface water quality by excess nutrients in stormwater is a substantial environmental and economic problem in the U.S. Phosphorus (P) is often the limiting nutrient for harmful algal blooms and the best target to prevent degradation. Natural treatment strategies such as constructed wetlands (CW) demonstrate effective and economical P management but obstacles exist to implementation. Biological P removal has large land requirements that limit the use of best management practices (BMP) in high land-value areas. Various BMP also utilize sorption processes (SP) for P removal but variations in performance and finite sorption capacity limit SP as a viable long-term removal strategy. However, by understanding variability and making sorption capacity renewable, SP could provide, with shorter retention times, a space-efficient, long-term removal strategy. This multi-study research program developed the urban wetland filter (UWF), a concept intended to overcome the unique limitations of high land-value areas to natural treatment strategies and provide a low-cost, easily implemented BMP to meet P management goals while harvesting sequestered P for use as a fertilizer. Experimental factors included substrate and influent properties pertinent to understanding performance variation and optimizing microbial iron (Fe) reduction for rejuvenation of sorption capacity. Regarding performance, modeling identified major sources of variability including, by order of importance, magnitude of a solution/substrate concentration gradient, length of the "antecedent dry period" between loadings, and pH. Field-scale results confirmed this multifactor dependence of P-removal while also supporting the inclusion of cast-iron filings in substrate to improve P removal. Regarding rejuvenation, results indicated that microbial Fe reduction is capable of releasing previously sequestered P from substrates. A sufficient carbon source was necessary, but microbial inoculation was not necessary to facilitate Fe reduction, which released most of the previously sequestered P, albeit more slowly than P sequestration. Field-scale results indicated that Fe reduction might occur faster under field conditions, possibly due to humic acids, and that inclusion of cast-iron filings enabled additional P removal after rejuvenation by providing a conservative source of Fe for the creation of new sorption sites; however, cast-iron filings may also limit the release of P during rejuvenation.
- Doctoral Dissertations