The University Record, September 5 , 1995

Low-cost, low-tech water treatment at Matthaei

By Sally Pobojewski
News and Information Services

Thanks to a one-quarter-acre marsh now under construction at the University of Michigan‘s Matthaei Botanical Gardens, water discharged into Fleming Creek from the Gardens‘ greenhouses and conservatory will soon be cleaner than water leaving the Ann Arbor wastewater treatment plant.

Although stormwater run-off from the Botanical Gardens has never caused a pollution problem in Fleming Creek,

U-M officials decided to create a wetland to ensure against the possibility of future fertilizer or pesticide spills.

Water from the conservatory floor drains and water run-off from eavestroughs and parking lots will flow into a deep sedimentation pond at one end of the shallow, winding marshy area where larger particles will settle out. As water slowly passes through the wetland, plants and microorganisms will absorb or degrade nitrogen, phosphorus and any pesticide residue before the water enters Fleming Creek. An educational exhibit at the site will help vistors understand the important role wetlands play in water quality.

Covering 0.27 acres, the Botanical Gardens‘ wetland will be planted with native reeds, sedges, rushes and other plants and should be completed by spring of 1996—although two years of plant growth will be needed before it can function at full water-cleansing capacity. U-M scientists will monitor the quality of water flowing into and out of the wetland to test its effectiveness.

The Botanical Gardens wetland was designed by Robert Kadlec of Wetlands Management Services and Cummins & Barnard Engineering of Ann Arbor. Funding was provided by the University.