Anthony Lee, Christopher Kudrak, Daniel Resciniti, and Kenneth M. Klemow. 2007. EVALUATING THE ABILITY OF DIFFERENT WETLAND SPECIES TO REMOVE IRON WITHIN CONSTRUCTED WETLANDS TO TREAT ABANDONED MINE DRAINAGE. Contributed paper: Pennsylvania Academy of Science meeting. Abstract: Journal of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science 80:115.
Abandoned mine drainage (AMD) is the largest source of pollution to streams in Pennsylvania. Over the past fifteen years, a variety of organizations have sought to ameliorate AMD through use of constructed wetlands. Those systems work by filtering heavy metals, primarily iron, from contaminated water. The relative ability of different plant species to act as filters is less understood. To gain some insight into iron-removal efficiencies, three plant species common to AMD-treatment wetlands in northeastern Pennsylvania (Typha latifolia – cattail; Juncus effusus – softrush; and Sparganium sp. - bur-reed) were planted within troughs measuring 18’ x 8” x 8” in a constructed wetland in northern Luzerne County, PA operated by the Earth Conservancy. Water quality measurements were taken at periodic intervals beginning late November 2006. Preliminary findings suggest that Sparganium provides more effective iron removal than the other species, primarily because it produces broad, flat leaves that act as binding sites for iron particles. The results of this investigation can help guide vegetation planting and management within AMD wetlands.