Constructed Wetland Project marks its first year

Sewanee's Constructed Wetland Project celebrated its first year in operation in June, and multiple research partnerships between Sewanee faculty and students and personnel from the University of Georgia will continue in the year ahead. Commissioned in June 2016 after a lengthy design and construction process, the Sewanee Research Wetland serves as a hub for numerous interdisciplinary research collaborations among faculty and students at Sewanee and the University of Georgia (UGA). 

Monthly measurements conducted by Megan Hopson (C'17, environment and sustainability), student Georgia Konstam, and Biology Professor Deborah McGrath have demonstrated clear reductions in different forms of nitrogen, phosphorus, and fecal coliform bacteria as wastewater effluent flows through the three wetland basins, even in the winter when the plants are dormant. Other research at the site includes the quantification of pharmaceutical concentrations, led by UGA Environmental Health Professor Marsha Black, and a survey of the diversity and health of amphibians colonizing the wetlands conducted by Biology Professor Kristen Cecala and undergraduate student Emma Zeitler.

Biology Professors Brandon Moore and Thea Edwards will compare tissue and organs in fish inhabiting the waste treatment lagoons and the wetland basins and Forestry Professor Scott Torreano will lead efforts to quantify carbon storage in the wetland. UGA Master of Science candidate Philipp Nussbaum and Water Law Professor Laurie Fowler recently presented a public outreach campaign, designed to educate and reframe community attitudes towards wastewater reuse, to the Sewanee Utility District Board of Commissioners. The wetland is proving to be effective at breaking down contaminants and providing habitat for herpetofauna and birds, and it will continue to serve as an aesthetically pleasing focal point for education about water and wastewater issues. See more information and photos