July 2009, Vol. 21, No.7


Using Vegetation To Remove Nutrients From Wastewater

Scientists in Tifton, Ga., are testing the possibility of using floating vegetation to remove nutrients from fishery wastewater.

The research team hopes to develop a system that uses the nutrients to produce biomass and enables the fishery water to be reused, according to a news release from the U.S. Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

For the study, wastewater from fish-production ponds is being pumped into 1287-L (340-gal) aquaculture tanks that have 0.929-m2 (10-ft2) floating mats on which vegetation can grow, according to the release.

“Our first objective is to find plant species that grow well in fishery wastewater,” said Robert Hubbard, an ARS soil scientist. The researchers are testing 12 plant species, including St. Augustinegrass, Tifton 85 bermudagrass, common bermudagrass, canna lilies, iris, bamboo, bulrush, cattail, bordergrass, napiergrass, reeds, and maidencane. So far, the iris has been the best performer, Hubbard said.

This spring, the researchers began the second part of the study to determine what effects the vegetation has on water quality and the amount of nutrients removed when plant biomass is harvested, Hubbard said.

Plant material will be harvested as it is needed, and the plant tissue will be analyzed for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, the news release says. The harvested plant material can be transplanted, used as feedstock for energy production, or composted and used as a soil amendment.

Read more about this and associated research in the January issue of Agricultural Research magazine at www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/jan09/drainage0109.htm

2009 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate Seeks To Improve India’s Sanitation

Bindeshwar Pathak has been named the 2009 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate. Pathak has worked to improve public health, change social attitudes toward sanitary latrine practices, and improve human rights in multiple countries, especially in India, according to a Stockholm (Sweden) International Water Institute news release.

In 1970, Pathak founded the Sulabh International Social Service Organization, which “has been a catalyst for improved sanitation and social change across India,” the news release says. In addition to working to change social attitudes toward unsanitary latrine practices in slums, rural villages, and urban districts, Pathak also has developed cost-effective toilet systems to improve daily life and health, the release states.

Pathak has waged an ongoing campaign to abolish the practice of manual cleaning or “scavenging” of human waste from bucket latrines in India and to gain the right to decent standards of living, social dignity, and economic opportunity for former scavengers, the news release says.

The award will be presented to Pathak at the Royal Award Ceremony and Banquet during World Water Week in Stockholm in August. For more information, see www.siwi.org/prizes

©2009 Water Environment Federations. All rights reserved.