Headwaters gets floating wetland

Floating treatment wetlands have been used around the world to help treat wastewater and reduce algae.

Kristin Piper positioning and anchoring the wetland.

The 8’x8’ wetland mat floats on the surface of the water and suspends approximately 230 wetland plant cuttings.

Kristin Piper, Don Lee, and Louann Holmes putting the floating wetland in the Headwaters Pond.

A floating wetland was launched in the Bob Fissell pond at Headwaters Outdoor Education Center on Home Road June 4, 2015. Kristin Piper, Delaware Watershed Coordinator, directed the project and was assisted by Dan Barker, Don Lee, Louann Holmes, and Marilyn Weiler.

Also called floating treatment islands, these structures are made of non-toxic post-consumer plastics and covered with native plants. They provide shade, habitat and water cleaning and they are inexpensive and very adaptable.*

Stop at H. O. E. C. any time and follow the trail west of the building to see this new idea in water management. For more information contact Piper at [email protected]

Thank you to Mia Shotwell for bringing the little birds to the “WEE” Discover preschool session on Thursday. They kept eagerly eating worms for all three groups. We also peeked at a tiny chipping sparrow nest which is at eye-level for pre-schoolers. The four eggs will hatch soon.

An average of 40 participants including the Whetstone day-care class, attended the spring classes each week and explored and learned more about nature.

The “WEE” Discover preschool program will be held at the Mount Gilead State Park in conjunction with the Wild Days on June 17 and 18, July 15 and 16 and August 5 and 6 at 9-11 am. The fall session will be back at Headwaters and will run from September 10 to October 29.

June was called Strawberry Moon, Blackberry Moon, and Full Leaf Moon by Native Americans and appreciated by James Russell Lowell when he said, “What is so rare as a day in June?” Nationally we will enjoy Great Outdoors Month with the Great American Campout on June 27th. June is also Safety Month and a time to remember sunscreen for the whole family as you enjoy the out of doors.

*Watershed Coordinator Piper explains when nutrients flow into water bodies (especially pooling areas like ponds or lakes) algal blooms can form causing harmful conditions to aquatic life. Algae has the ability to produce toxins that are dangerous to organisms living in the area, such as humans, livestock, dogs, bird, etc. It also requires oxygen to survive and can deplete the available oxygen for fish, macroinvertebrates, and other aquatic creatures. Among other harmful qualities it creates a solid layer on the waterbody’s surface, shading the sunlight and preventing aquatic vegetation from growing.

Olentangy Watershed Alliance (OWA) and Morrow Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) deployed a floating treatment wetland into a pond at Headwaters Outdoor Education Center to test the nutrient uptake in aquatic plants. This 8’x8’ wetland mat floats on the surface of the water and suspends approximately 230 wetland plant cuttings. These cuttings will absorb some of the nutrients that accumulate in this pond since their roots are hanging in the water. Last year OWA installed two mats that used willow, lizard’s tail, swamp rose, buttonbush, and swamp mallow. However, due to species availability, buttonbush was the only cutting available for this mat. OWA and Morrow SWCD are hopefully that this effort will help reduce the algae that sometimes appears in this pond.

Floating treatment wetlands have been used around the world to help treat wastewater. However, using these systems to treat stormwater is a relatively new development. These mats have been used to help treat the water in Grand Lake Saint Mary’s but it was estimated that 20% of the waterbody would need to be covered with these mats to remove the amount of nutrients needed to stop the algae growth. Since the waterbodies in the Olentangy Watershed are not that nutrient-rich, to date, it is thought that one 8’x8’ mat should make a difference in this approximately 25,400 square foot pond.