Two emergent macrophytes, Arundo donax and Phragmites australis, were established in experimental subsurface flow, gravel-based constructed wetlands (CWs) and challenged by untreated stormwater collected from the hard-pan and other surfaces of a dairy processing factory in south-west Victoria, Australia. The hydraulic loading rate was tested at two levels, sequentially, 3.75 and 7.5 cm day−1. Some of the monitored variables were removed more efficiently by the planted beds in comparison to unplanted CWs (biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP); p < 0.007) but there was no significant difference between the A. donax and P. australis CWs in removal of BOD, suspended solids (SS) and TN (p > 0.007) at 3.75 cm day−1 or SS and TN at 7.5 cm day−1. At 3.75 cm day−1, BOD, SS, TN and TP removal in the A. donax and P. australis CWs was 71%, 61%, 78% and 75% and 65%, 60%, 73% and 41%, respectively. Nutrient removal at 7.5 cm day−1 in the A. donax and P. australis beds was 87%, 91%, 84% and 71% and 96%, 94%, 87% and 55%, respectively. As expected, the A. donax CWs produced considerably more biomass (10 ± 1.2 kg wet weight) than the P. australis CWs (2.7 ± 1.2 kg wet weight). This equates to approximately 107 and 36 tonnes ha−1 year−1 biomass (dry weight) for A. donax and P. australis, respectively (assuming 250 days of growing season and single-cut harvest). The performance similarity of the A. donax- and P. australis-planted CWs indicates that either may be used in HSSF wetlands treating dairy factory stormwater, although the planting of A. donax provides additional opportunities for secondary income streams through utilisation of the biomass produced.
Arundo donaxPhragmites australisConstructed wetlands Nutrient removal Dairy factory stormwater Victoria Australia