Researchers using floating treatment to remove nutrients from eutrophic ponds

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Researchers using floating treatment to remove nutrients from eutrophic ponds

Algal bloom on pond

A University of Nebraska–Lincoln project to use floating treatment wetlands to remove surface water nutrients from eutrophic ponds has received a $111,797 grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust.

Excessive nutrient loading often results in algal blooms and unwanted weed growth in water bodies, which has lasting health implications in both agricultural and urban ecosystems. Land requirements often constrain the implementation of on-site nutrient management practices.

Floating treatment wetlands are a promising and innovative solution for removing those excess nutrients. Wetland plants are employed in floating frameworks, where their exposed roots are suspended in the water. Plant uptake removes nitrogen and phosphorus from the water, while microbes on plant roots convert nitrate to nitrogen gas, which safely returns to the atmosphere.

Previous research at the university with floating treatment wetlands in the laboratory, greenhouse and field have shown substantial nutrient removal. The NET grant will allow university researchers to expand their novel technology to other nutrient-rich ponds in the coming years.

Nebraska is partnering with Teledyne ISCO, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Lower Platte South NRD and Lincoln Parks and Recreation to cover costs associated with sampling equipment, technician and faculty time, and site habitat assessments.

The project is one of 23 Husker projects receiving more than $2.1 million from NET this year. In total, NET awarded 113 grants totaling more than $18 million in 2021.

The Nebraska Legislature created the NET in 1992. Using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, the trust has provided more than $349 million in grants to more than 2,400 projects across the state. Anyone — citizens, organizations, communities, farmers and businesses — can apply for funding to protect habitat, improve water quality and establish recycling programs in Nebraska. The NET works to preserve, protect and restore the state’s natural resources for future generations.

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