Re: NANFA-- Wetlands can greatly aid water purification septic effluent

Jeffrey Fullerton (
Tue, 18 Jul 2000 00:24:19 -0400

Wetlands are indeed great natural machines for clensing waterways. We are even
now learning to build artificial ones to replace conventional sewage plants-
these work very well but are slow to catch on. Another unfortunate thing is that
natural wetlands often get overloaded beyond their capacity

I recently bought Solviva - a book about solar greenhouses and other alternative
techs by Anna Edey and there is an interesting chapter on the contamination of
ponds and marshes in her region by septic system effluents. Interesting enough,
the author points out some conter-productive results stemming from upgrading the
older systems to more modern standards. The older systems had formed an
impermeable biofilm that kept effluents from leaching down into the aquifers and
forced them outward into the root zones of nearby trees which did a fine job of
filtering them.

Unfortunately both the biofilm and many of the trees- often valued landscape
specimens were destroyed in order to put in a new system that is less efficient
than the one before until a new biofilm is formed and newly planted trees mature
- a process that takes years. As a consequence, many lakes and tidal marshes in
this area (Cape Cod) are choked with a sickening infestation of string algae that
covers every expose surface in the water- smothering plants and depleting the
oxygen in the water.


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