2015 has been a great year for the restoration program at Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR). We have partnered with countless schools, businesses, non-profits, and local governments to
install a wide range of projects throughout the watershed. In the coming months, FOR seeks to install a new and innovative stormwater Best Management Practice (BMP) in the Rappahannock Canal. This pilot project will include the construction and installation of Floating Treatment Wetlands (FTW).What is a Floating Treatment Wetland?
FTWs are constructed, man-made ecosystems designed to mimic natural wetlands. FTWs are
designed using floating rafts that support wetland obligate plant species. FTWs float on a wet pond water surface, or in this case canal, and can be used to improve water quality by filtering, consuming, or breaking down pollutants (e.g., nutrients, sediment, and metals) from the water.What do they Do?
FTWs can provide a variety of ecosystem services including fish and wildlife habitat, beautification, and water quality improvements. In our project, FTWs will be designed to increase the ability of a previously-installed stormwater BMP to remove nitrogen and phosphorus by absorbing nutrients through complex root systems. These target nutrients are of concern in the Rappahannock River and throughout the Chesapeake Bay as a part of the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), which targets pollutants negatively impacting the Bay and outlines strategies to mitigate them.How do they Work?
FTWs float on the water’s surface while allowing the plants it supports to have submerged root
systems. These plants directly remove nutrients through a process called Biological Uptake. Within the root systems of the wetland plants,
microorganisms thrive and are able to break down and consume nutrients and organic matter through a process known as Microbial Decomposition.
Finally, the large root systems also act as a filter for sediments and associated pollutants.

FOR Pilot Project
In the winter of 2014 FOR approached the City of
Fredericksburg to discuss the FTWs and the
possibility of adding one to an existing stormwater pond in the city limits. The plan is to work with a local high school science class to design and
construct the practices and successfully install two FTWs in the Rappahannock Canal adjacent to the FOR headquarters, with the hope of adding these practices to all
existing stormwater ponds in the city, where appropriate. This effort will help the city achieve additional nutrient
reductions using innovative strategies and provide an excellent learning opportunity for area students. FOR plans to install the projects in late summer.

 

floating wetland graphic.png

Photo by: Virginia Tech Extension

 

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