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USING CONSTRUCTED WETLANDS TO IMPROVE WATER QUALITY AND REDUCE NONPOINT POLLUTANT LOADINGS INTO THE TRUCKEE RIVER

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A small-scale wetland system was constructed along Steamboat Creek, the major nonpoint source of total nitrogen for the Truckee River. The wetland system consisted of three parallel trains. Two trains functioned as vegetated free surface wetlands and one train functioned as an unvegetated attached growth media bed. Each train was operated at a relatively high hydraulic loading rate (13.3 cm/d) and had a relatively short hydraulic residence time (12 hours).

The ability of the wetland system to reduce total nitrogen in Steamboat Creek was routinely monitored. Over the period of one year, total nitrogen was reduced by an average of 42 percent or 0.44 mg/L in the two vegetated trains and an average of 21 percent or 0.27 mg/L in the unvegetated train. The speciation of nitrogen was an important factor influencing the effectiveness of nitrogen removal within the wetland system. Ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite were more effectively removed than organic nitrogen.

Based on the results obtained for the small-scale wetland system, vegetated surface flow constructed wetlands along Steamboat Creek have the potential to reduce the loading of total nitrogen into the Truckee River by an average of 47 kg/d on an annual basis, which represents an overall reduction of 30 percent.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-01-01

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