Surface water sanitation and biomass production in a large constructed wetland in the Netherlands

B.G. Meerburg, P.H. Vereijken, W. de Visser, A. Verhagen, H. Korevaar, E.P. Querner, A.T. de Blaeij, A.K. van der Werf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


In Western-Europe, agricultural practices have contributed to environmental problems such as eutrophication of surface and ground water, flooding, drought and desiccation of surrounding natural habitats. Solutions that reduce the impact of these problems are urgently needed. Common reed (Phragmites australis) is capable of sanitizing surface water and may function as green energy source because of its high productivity. Here, the results of an experiment in a constructed wetland in the Netherlands are presented where two different sanitation treatments were compared. Depending on the residence time and volume per unit area, reed is capable to reduce the total amount of nitrogen in the water with average efficiencies from 32 to 47% and the total amount of phosphorous with 27–45%. Although biomass production still varies largely between different parts of the constructed wetland, a rapid increase in biomass was observed since planting. Constructed wetlands with reed provide opportunities to improve water quality and reed produces enough biomass to serve as green energy source. Moreover, these wetlands also function as a flood water reservoir and are possibly advantageous for biodiversity. The optimal moment of reed harvesting depends on the goal of the owner. This moment should be chosen wisely, as it may have consequences for reed filter regeneration, biomass production, biodiversity, methane emission and water sanitation efficiency.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-470
JournalWetlands Ecology and Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • phragmites-australis
  • waste-water
  • nutrient removal
  • impact
  • river
  • flow
  • agriculture
  • macrophytes
  • plants


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