An assessment of the cost effectiveness of vegetation harvesting as a means of removing nutrient and metals from ponds
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This paper reports on an investigation to quantify the mass of pollutants removed from a stormwater retention pond by routine vegetation harvesting. The amount of plants can increase the costs of ponds, and the increased costs of plant maintenance may not be justified by enhanced pollutant removal. This study provides some of the basic information, previously lacking, which is needed to come to such decisions. The study facility was La Costa pond, a retention pond in California used to treat highway runoff. Water quality monitoring data indicate that the pond removed 43 percent of the total nitrogen entering the facility, with 5 to 7 percent directly attributable to harvesting the vegetation – in this case cattails (Typha). The data also indicate that 48 percent of the total annual phosphorus was removed from the runoff, with the harvested vegetation responsible for between 3 and 8 percent. Metal uptake by the vegetation was substantially less than nutrients. Total removal of copper, lead and zinc by the pond varied between 57 and 93 percent, with the harvested vegetation accounting for less than 2 percent of removal. Issues addressed in the paper include the cost implications of harvesting and ways of improving vegetative pollutant removal.