British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Kinetic and empirical design criteria for constructed wetlands Nix, P. O.; Gulley, John R.


Design criteria were derived for estimated the size of constructed wetlands needed to treat oil sands mining wastewater using a field-scale wetland experimental facility in northeastern Alberta, Canada. The objective of this research was to demonstrate the capabilities of such wetlands as long-term, self-sustaining "natural" systems for the treatment of large quantities of wastewater anticipated to be released from tailings ponds after mine abandonment. Using empirical data (i.e., hydrocarbon loading rates versus effluent quality), the optimal range of hydrocarbon loading was 5 to 25 gTEH/m²/month. Using more conservative kinetic data (i.e., microbial mineralization rates), the range of optimal treatment effectiveness was 9.6 to 13.2 gTEH/m²/month. Since these two design criteria methodologies were calculated using two independent analytical methods, the similarity in results represents a substantial validation of their accuracy. Further research is being undertaken to confirm these findings, to improve treatment performance, and to assess the ecological characteristics of these wetlands. Key Words - constructed wetland, design criteria, hydrocarbons, mineralization

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