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Artificial Floating Island System as a Sustainable Solution for Addressing Nutrient Pollution and Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in Ohio
  • Zhaozhe Chen,
  • Ozeas Costa
Zhaozhe Chen
Ohio State University

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Ozeas Costa
The Ohio State University
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Nutrient pollution is considered one of America’s most widespread, costly, and challenging environmental problems. Artificial Floating Islands (AFIs), a phytoremediation technology, has been proven as an efficient, environmental-friendly, and cost-effective strategy to address this issue. However, most previous studies of AFIs were done in controlled conditions at mesocosm experiments. In addition, limited information exists on the use of AFIs as a nutrient remediation/prevention strategy in Ohio. This study aims to fill these gaps. We are currently undertaking a combination of mesocosm and natural experiment to assess the nutrient-removal efficiency of AFI systems in the Milliron Research Wetlands (at the Ohio State University Mansfield campus), and establish a performance baseline for two native aquatic plant species, Carex comosa and Eleocharis palustris. In this study, 18 AFIs, 6 planted with Carex comosa, 6 with Eleocharis palustris, and 6 have no plants, were deployed in a section of the Milliron Research Wetlands. Physical and chemical parameters are being monitored bi-weekly. The AFI systems are constructed using PVC pipes to provide buoyance, EVA foam mats as platforms, and nylon nets to cover the system. Each AFI unit has nine luffa sponges, inserted in the foam mat, to hold aquatic plant seedlings, keep the moisture of roots, and enlarge the surface area for bacterial biofilm development. Since nutrient removal from the wetland is affected by numerous natural processes, a mesocosm experiment was set up to assist the quantification of nutrient removal due specifically to the presence of AFIs. The mesocosm experiment mimics the natural experiment at the wetland and contain 12 equal-size tanks containing water pumped directly from the wetland, 3 of which have AFIs with Carex comosa, 3 have Eleocharis palustris, 3 have no plants, and 3 contain just water from the wetland. Physical and chemical measurements (as well as sample collections) are performed weekly in the tanks. Water in the tanks are exchanged bi-weekly. Preliminary results show that the AFI systems quickly developed large root systems and extensive bacterial biofilms. The effects of the associations between plant biomass, biofilm development, and changing chemical and physical conditions will be investigated as the experiment progresses.