This research had two basic objectives: to assess the capability of macrophytes indigenous to the subarctic in removal of heavy metals from wastewater and to determine the feasibility of using constructed wetlands for sewage wastewater treatment in a subarctic environment with a focus on rural application. The research consisted of two parts: a greenhouse study in which indigenous macrophytes were subjected to heavy metal pollutants similar to those found in roadway runoff and a constructed wetland built to treat sewage wastewater. Five species of plants were tested in both projects: Arctophila fulva, Carex rhynchophysa, Menyanthes trifoliate, Scirpus validus and Typha latifolia . In the greenhouse study, the plants were exposed to four heavy metals: cadmium (Cd), copper (Cu), lead (Pb) and zinc (Zn) over a 68-day period. The plants were grown under a photoperiod of 20 hours light:4 hours dark. There were significant differences in metal uptake among species and more metals were stored in below-ground plant parts than in above-ground plant parts. In separate experiments, plants took up zinc in greater quantities than the other metals except A. fulva which took up copper in the greatest quantity. Effects of phytotoxicity from the metal concentrations were apparent only in M. trifoliata. The constructed wetland study consisted of a five-cell system. Biological oxygen demand (BOD), total suspended solids (TSS), fecal coliforms (FC), total phosphorus (TP), total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN) and ammonium nitrogen (NH4+) were measured bi-weekly during each growing season over a three-year period. Reduction efficiencies, averaged over the ice-free season, ranged from 24--67% for BOD; 38--62% for TSS; 93--99% for FC; 21--60% for TP; 43--76% for TKN; and 50--92% for NH4+. The reduction of pollutants indicated the ability of constructed wetlands to work well in the subarctic. Vegetation colonized the constructed wetland rapidly, with a complex community structure emerging over the study period. Pollutant reduction appeared to be limited by the size of the constructed wetland and not by the extreme climatic conditions.
Thesis (Ph.D.) University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2002
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