Wastewater treatment with plants is a well established discipline,
but with recent advances in genetic engineering and the tightening
of certain regulations (including POTW discharge limits, storm
drain run off, etc.) it is being revisted by new techniques.
Some random thoughts:
1. A good review of the engineering component might be found in
chapter 13 "Land Treatment" of WASTEWATER ENGINEERING:
TREATMENT, DISPOSAL AND REUSE. Revised by George Tchobanoglous.
Published by McGraw-Hill Book Company. Plants/crops have been
used as a land treatment system since the 1880's.
2. Specific literature searches on the subject /or following people
will also give quite a list of excellent references:
B. C. Wolverton- reed beds, aquatic plants, constructed wetlands
he is now with Wolverton Environmental (601) 799-3807
Reinhold Kickuth (Germany)- aquatic plant filter beds -lots of good
papers & research.
R.F. Stott - (try Letters in Applied Microbiology, 1991 12, 99-105
"Sewage treatment with plants")
USEPA (1988) document- Design Manual- Constructed Wetlands and
Aquatic Plant Systems for Municipal Wastewater Treatment, EPA
3. There are many companies that promote, sell, or install plant-
based, wastewater treatment systems. Some are listed below, but there are many
The Lemna Corp- St. Paul Minn. (612) 688-8813
BBI-Charles Town W.V (304) 725-6880
EEA -Marion, Mass. (508) 748-3224
Phragmitech inc- Cheneville, Quebec (819) 428-3640
Severn Trent (Coventry, CV3 6PR- IN UK) -M.B. Green
they are installing 100's of reed bed systems and seem to have
done a good job on the engineering parameter.
Environmental Engineering Consultants, Norwich, Vt 05055
4. As an overall comment- the design, supporting matrix (soil, etc),
plant species and rates of degradation can all be improved by the R &
D community. Degradation of toxins by the plants, and plant-
associated microbes is a relatively "hot" topic currently under
examination in a dozen labs. There is some excellent work being done
in this area at Federal, State and University labs.
5. A couple of conferences to note with plant & Xenobiotic
degradation components are:
Meeting of the Air and Waste Management Assoc Denver June 13-18
Congress on Cell and Tissue Culture, San Diego June 5-9
ACS Meeting- Chicago Aug 22-27 A symposium on rhizosphere
Water Environment Federation Meeting (Fall)
Soils Science Society of America (Fall)
The standard disclaimer applies about these not being corporate
opinions, just mine. There is quite a lot of information out there on
the flux of chemicals through this systems, plant uptake,
degradative capacity of plants, etc... There is a lot of room for good
inovative botany/microbiology/hydrology etc.