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Climate change driven by the accumulation of greenhouse gases (GHG) is an urgent concern around the globe, and water utilities are increasingly interested in working toward carbon neutrality to reduce their impacts. At the same time, rising energy costs and the possibility of collateral ecological benefits are increasing interest in treatment wetlands as an economically and ecologically attractive alternative to conventional treatment. Evaluating the environmental, treatment, and cost trade-offs for treatment wetlands is complicated by GHG concerns.

Considerable information is available on treatment wetland (TW) design and GHG issues associated with natural wetlands, but much less information is available on GHG emissions from TWs, where nutrient and carbon loading tend to be considerably greater than in nature. A brief review of the literature is provided to define what is known about GHG emissions from treatment wetland systems, along with possible design and management approaches to reduce emissions. Assessment and mitigation of GHG emissions need to balance energy demands with other types of gains and losses in valuable ecological services. A net environmental benefits analysis (NEBA) of TWs versus Conventional Treatment (CT) options can provide an understanding of this balance and is introduced herein.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2008

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