Multi-species plant systems for wastewater quality improvements and habitat enhancement

Martin M. Karpiscak, Charles P. Gerba, Pamela M. Watt, Kennith E. Foster, Jeanne A. Falabi

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


The use of macrophytic plants for the treatment of municipal wastewater is growing rapidly. The Constructed Ecosystems Research Facility (CERF) is a joint project of the Pima County Wastewater Management Department and The University of Arizona's Office of Arid Lands Studies. The facility consists of five 30-mil-hyperlon-lined raceways measuring 61 m long, 8.2 m wide, and 1.4 m deep and one slightly larger raceway. Research has been and is being conducted with aquatic plants such as water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), duckweed (Lemna spp.), giant reed (Arundo donax), bulrush (Scirpus olneyi), black willow (Salix nigra), and cottonwood (Populus fremontii). Composite water samplers are used to collect refrigerated samples from incoming secondary wastewater from Pima County's Sewage Treatment Facility and from the effluent leaving each raceway. Water samples have been analyzed for parameters such as pH, RODS, and total nitrogen. Microbiological studies have concentrated on the removal of indicator coliform bacteria, as well as Giardia, Cryptosporidium and viruses from the wastewater. Data from the water quality studies indicate that these constructed ecosystems reduce BOD5 consistently to below the 10 mg/L BOD5, tertiary standard, remove nitrogen as well as decrease the concentration of pathogens significantly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-236
Number of pages6
JournalWater Science and Technology
Issue number10-11
StatePublished - 1996
EventProceedings of the 1995 IAWQ 2nd International Symposium on Wastewater Reclamation and Reuse - Iraklio, Greece
Duration: Oct 17 1995Oct 20 1995


  • Arundo donax
  • Coliforms
  • Constructed wetlands
  • Cryptosporidium
  • Giardia
  • Lemna spp.
  • P. fremontii
  • Pathogens
  • Salis nigra
  • Scirpus olneyi
  • Wastewater
  • Water quality
  • Wetlands

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology


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