This project uses the Sullivan Park constructed wetland built recently near Lafayette College as a case study. The focus of this project is to evaluate the performance of the wetland at regulating nutrient levels. Excessive nutrients in water, mainly phosphorus and nitrogen, can cause “eutrophication” leading to growth of algae. Currently, there is an abundance of algae in the wetland which not only affects the aesthetics of the wetland but is also causing a problem by clogging up the water fountain installed at the wetland used for aeration purposes. This research project has two main components: water sampling and subsequent lab analysis to determine the nutrient make-up of the water. Baseflow samples have been collected and assessed to measure nutrient levels in the groundwater feeding into the wetland. These samples are collected at different sampling locations in the wetland to also analyze how the nutrients transport within this system. Baseflow analysis results have shown relatively low levels of phosphorus and nitrogen. The nutrient levels have varied with seasonal changes, with a huge spike in nutrient levels seen after super storm Sandy. Samples of the runoff entering and leaving the wetland in other storm events have been also been collected and analyzed. Preliminary runoff sampling analysis has shown a 50% reduction in the levels of nutrients in the outflow compared to the inflow. Once results from the nutrient analysis are finalized, a limiting nutrient analysis will be conducted with a view to building a system to control the particular limiting nutrient.
Hassaan Khan is a senior Civil and Environmental Engineering major at Lafayette College, originally from Karachi, Pakistan. His main interests are in low cost water treatment methods, and water sustainability efforts applicable in developing countries. He plans to eventually pursue graduate study in environmental engineering.