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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 21 No. 4, p. 726-732
    Received: Oct 15, 1991

    * Corresponding author(s):
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Fractionation of Phosphorus in the Sediment of a Wetland after a Decade of Receiving Sewage Effluent

  1. James G. Cooke *,
  2. Laila Stub and
  3. Neil Mora
  1. Water Quality Centre, National Inst. of Water & Atmospheric Res. Ltd., P.O. Box 11-115 Hamilton, New Zealand;
    Dep. of Chemical Engineering, The Engineering Academy of Denmark, Bygning 376 DK2800 Lyngby, Denmark.



Sediment deposited in traps positioned along a pollution gradient in a wetland receiving sewage effluent was fractionated with respect to phosphorus (P) to understand the processes of P removal. Significant differences in P fractions were found between sites. Close to the point of effluent discharge, virtually all of the P deposited was in organic form; whereas downstream of a confluence with a wetland not impacted by the sewage, inorganic P constituted 50 to 80% of the total P. More than 80% of the inorganic P occurred in forms extractable by 0.1 M NaOH. This form of P was highly correlated (r2 ≃0.5–0.8) with oxalate-extractable Fe. Natural wetlands unimpacted by sewage effluent were shown to be the main source of the Fe. Hydrologic conditions regulating the delivery of Fe to the sewage-impacted wetland were implicated as the main factors determining the relative concentrations of inorganic P within the impacted wetland system. While it is not clear whether adsorption or precipitation reactions were responsible for the P deposition, we conclude that the present rate of P removal is sustainable. Our results may explain why, in some cases, the P removal achieved in wastewater wetland systems is much greater than can be predicted solely from soil adsorption maxima.

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