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Clayton County Water Authority (CCWA), Clayton County, Georgia, has begun implementing a new Master Plan for water and wastewater needs for the county. The 2000 Master Plan recommended the construction of treatment wetlands to provide for the increased flows generated at the new wastewater reclamation facilities that cannot be handled by CWWA's current treatment systems.

Providing additional natural treatment and creating wetland habitat is consistent with CCWA's overall strategy of environmental enhancement and wetland restoration. Constructed wetlands are a good fit to continue CWWA's use of natural effluent management technologies, and work well in combination with land application systems that are already in place in the county.

Since the 1970s, treatment wetlands have been engineered for polishing of municipal effluents in the southeastern U.S. Presently, wetland sizes are determined with empirical methods. A number of efforts have been underway to assess the effectiveness of treatment wetlands and to summarize information from diverse data sources into coherent and predictive descriptions of performance. CH2M HILL has identified 17 permitted constructed wetland systems in Georgia. Expected wetland treatment rates for the CCWA wetlands were generated with the data gathered from the state's operational wetlands.

Data points taken from the Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs) for each site were compiled to determine minimum, maximum, and average concentrations for several effluent parameters. These summaries were then compared to the monthly National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit limits set by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD).

Data analysis indicates that constructed treatment wetlands in Georgia are operating within the permitted NPDES limits and are comparable to other southeastern U.S. constructed treatment wetlands. Data for 5-day biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5), total suspended solids (TSS), and ammonium-nitrogen (NH4-N) from constructed wetlands in current operation suggest that they are achieving desired treatment levels as the permit limits set by EPD have consistently been achieved. Observations of seasonal differences in BOD5 and NH4-N concentrations have confirmed the need for a seasonal permit limit.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2001

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