Colorado State University Wetlands

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Type: Policy

Status: Ongoing

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Wetlands keep pollutants and sediments from city's sewer system
July 22, 2008

Did you know ... Colorado State has created wetlands that remove pollutants and sediments from water that drains from university greenhouses before the water is released into the city's sewer system?

Wetlands for bioremediation
Wetlands at several locations on the Colorado State University campus do more than provide scenic landscaping - they naturally clean up wastewater and provide a system for using the reclaimed water in water-conserving landscape.

Greenhouses discharge gallons of wastewater each day
One of the wetlands is located near the university greenhouses on the main campus. This wetland helps to mitigate the up to 1,000 gallons of wastewater discharged from the greenhouses each day. The wastewater from greenhouse operations contains chemical fertilizers and synthetic compounds, such as fungicides.

Learning tool for students
An important purpose of the wetlands is to keep the wastewater from leaving the site. It also cleans up wastewater, and provides a learning tool and demonstration site for students and faculty on both the remediation of wastewater and the use of the reclaimed water in a water-conserving landscape.

How is the water cleaned?
The remediation, or "cleaning," of the greenhouse irrigation wastewater is accomplished by a series of biological treatments constructed on an 11,000 square-foot site immediately east of the university greenhouses. The three stages of the remediation include:

  • 800 square-foot bog
  • 1,000 square-foot pond with a re-circulating water feature
  • Bioretention trench

Plants located in the bog and pond provide the niche for bacteria to flourish, and utilize nutrients that bind or precipitate metals. Water that has been cleaned through the bog and pond treatments is applied via a subsurface irrigation system to a water conservation demonstration garden.

Bioremediation wetlands also at Foothills Campus
A second, one-quarter acre bioremediation wetlands is located at the Equine Center on the Foothills Campus.

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