Since May is American Wetlands Month, I want to highlight the use of constructed wetlands, or green infrastructure, as a way to manage or restore natural hydrologies to an ecosystem.
The technologies mentioned below are not necessarily new or revolutionary. However, with the recent government emphasis on infrastructure and green projects, I think the scale will be tipping towards their use.
Constructed wetlands are literally man-made wetlands that are designed to store and filter discharge such as stormwater, wastewater, or sewage treatment using natural processes. The Garfield Wetland in Topeka, Kansas is a good example with a web presence. Locally, the Queens Botanical Garden has a functioning constructed wetland that is used for educational purposes.
The technology has been in use for at least the past 20 years, and a Google Scholar search provides ample research and case studies; however, the recent infrastructure stimulus package has focused attention on water and wastewater projects. In April, the EPA put up a website dedicated to wetlands and watersheds, and I expect that constructed wetlands or man-made restoration of natural wetlands will see a boost.
The EPA also put up a website dedicated to green infrastructure. Constructed wetlands are considered “green”, but this category also includes smaller projects such as rain gardens, porous pavements, green roofs, infiltration planters, trees and tree boxes, and rainwater harvesting.
Each of these technologies is a story in itself, but I hope seeing the adoption of these techologies increases your awareness that change is happening and that the tipping point for widespread use may be just around the corner.