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Using nature to treat wastewater

  • Using nature to treat wastewater
  • Constructed wetlands are recognised as a reliable wastewater treatment technology that can treat many types of wastewater. Read how Irish Water is putting nature into action to treat wastewater.

About the blog

Robert Brears
Robert is the author of Urban Water Security (Wiley), The Green Economy and the Water-Energy-Food Nexus (Palgrave Macmillan), Blue and Green Cities: The Role of Blue-Green Infrastructure in Managing Urban Water Resources (Palgrave Macmillan)
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Constructed wetlands are designed, built, and operated with a specific purpose and function in mind, including cost-effective wastewater treatment. Furthermore, the use of constructed wetlands provides a habitat for wildlife.

Wastewater treatment wetlands use natural processes to treat and dispose of wastewater, removing the waste contaminants and improving the quality of the water. These wetlands can treat wastewater from various sources, including towns and small cities, food processing plants, petroleum refineries, and various industrial sources.

Irish Water’s constructed wetland treating wastewater

Irish Water’s newly constructed Integrated constructed wetland in Lixnaw, Co. Kerry is designed to treat wastewater and provide a range of secondary benefits, including lower operational and maintenance costs, biodiversity creation, and reduced energy consumption and carbon emissions. The integrated constructed wetland comprises two small settlement cells and four larger treatment cells planted with native wetland species on a 6.7-hectare site. The specific co-benefits of the wetland are:

  • It is designed to meet environmental requirements for existing and future populations
  • Operational and maintenance costs are less than 10% of a conventional wastewater treatment plant
  • Integrated constructed wetlands can sequester over 5 tonnes of carbon/hectare/year

This project builds on Irish Water’s successful Dunhill integrated constructed wetland which was built in 2000 and extended with additional treatment ponds in 2012. In addition to treating wastewater, the site provides a habitat for otters, water bats, frogs, and newts and various visiting and resident birds.

Conclusion

Using nature to solve our challenges needs to be second nature.

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