Seasonal influence on sulfate reduction and metal sequestration in sub-surface wetlands
Stein, Otto R.
Borden-Stewart, Deborah J.
Hook, P. B.
Jones, Warren L.
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To characterize the effects of season, temperature, plant species, and chemical oxygen demand (COD) loading on sulfate reduction and metals removal in treatment wetlands we measured pore water redox potentials and concentrations of sulfate, sulfide, zinc and COD in subsurface wetland microcosms. Two batch incubations of 20 day duration were conducted in each of four seasons defined by temperature and daylight duration. Four treatments were compared: unplanted controls, Typha latifolia (broadleaf cattail), and Schoenoplectus acutus (hardstem bulrush), all at low COD loading (267 mg/L), plus bulrush at high COD loading (534 mg/L). Initial SO4-S and zinc concentrations were 67 and 24 mg/L, respectively. For all treatments, sulfate removal was least in winter (4 °C, plant dormancy) greatest in summer (24 °C, active plant growth) and intermediate in spring and fall (14 °C), but seasonal variation was greater in cattail, and especially, bulrush treatments. Redox measurements indicated that, in winter, plant-mediated oxygen transfer inhibited activity of sulfate reducing bacteria, exacerbating the reduction in sulfate removal due to temperature. Doubling the COD load in bulrush treatments increased sulfate removal by only 20–30% when averaged over all seasons and did not alter the basic pattern of seasonal variation, despite tempering the wintertime increase in redox potential. Seasonal and treatment effects on zinc removal were broadly consistent with sulfate removal and presumably reflected zinc-sulfide precipitation. Results strongly suggest that interactive effects of COD loading rate, temperature, season, and plant species control not only sulfate reduction and zinc sequestration, but also the balance of competition between various microbial consortia responsible for water treatment in constructed wetlands.
Stein OR, Borden DJ, Hook PB, Jones WL, "Seasonal influence on sulfate reduction and metal sequestration in sub-surface wetlands," Wat Res 2007 41(15):3440-3448