These kind of systems also have great potential as alternative systems
for managing sewage and grey water that pollutes many watersheds. In
colder climates these artificial wetlands can be enclosed in greenhouses
to keep them going year round. Similar systems will likely find use when
humans begin to move out into space and establish artificial biomes on
other worlds - but their greatest immediate potential lays in cleaning
up our waste streams here on earth. Many plants such as water hyacinth
also will recover toxic heavy metals - it is possible that plants may
one day be genetically engineered to recover metals which will then be
recovered and recycled when the plants themselves are harvested.
Fish and a variety of other organisms are often incorporated into these
systems both as functional elements and sentinels to make sure things
are running right. If there is a mass die off of fish - that might
indicate a problem in the system.
The concept using a diverse array of ordinary marsh plants has been
sucessfully demonstarted. A facility operated by - I believe Ocean Arks
international could routinely process nasty stuff - like embalming fluid
from a mortuary and the water comming out the other end still supported
minnows and smallmouth bass!
Unfortunately there remains alot of bureacratic hurdles to this
technology and engineering bias toward the conventional systems. As
pointed out by Anna Edy in Solviva : how to grow $500,000 on One Acre &
Peace on Earth- many govt mandates that require expensive upgrades of
septic systems before a property can be sold have ironically exacerbated
the pollution of groundwater and local bodies of water because of
disruption of the impermeable biofilms and tree roots that have
previously contained and absorbed the waste stream from the older less
Plus a whole lot of nice trees and other landscape features had to be
destroyed or disrupted for less benefit than the regulators promised.
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