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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 13 No. 4, p. 602-604
    Received: Nov 14, 1983

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Effects of Wastewater Disposal on Growth Rates of Cypress Trees1

  1. Sandra K. Lemlich and
  2. Katherine Carter Ewel2



A swamp in north Florida received raw sewage from 1914 to 1951, primary wastewater from 1952 to 1972, and secondary wastewater from 1973 through the present. A study conducted at this swamp to determine long-term impacts of wastewater discharge included an analysis of the growth rates of surviving trees. Increment cores were taken from cypress trees [Taxodium distichum var. nutans (Ait.) Sweet] in this swamp and from a nearby undisturbed cypress swamp. Annual basal area increments were calculated for 75 yr to determine whether the growth rates differed during the various discharge periods relative to growth rates at the control swamp. Disposal of untreated or primary wastewater was detrimental to tree growth. Secondarily treated wastewater enhanced tree productivity, and growth rates during this period returned to levels that were similar to control growth rates. Cypress swamps should not be used for disposal of raw sewage or primary wastewater because of the negative impact on the trees, but trees that survive such conditions are apparently able to recover normal growth rates when the wastewater is upgraded.

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