Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 24, Issue 30, pp 23926–23938 | Cite as

Growth characteristics and nutrient removal capability of eco-ditch plants in mesocosm sediment receiving primary domestic wastewater

  • Mathieu Nsenga Kumwimba
  • Bo Zhu
  • Diana Kavidia Muyembe
  • Mawuli Dzakpasu
Research Article


Eco-ditches are being explored to maximize their capability of capturing pollutants and mitigate any harmful side effects in rivers. In this study, mesocosm plastic drum sediment and field experiments were set up to screen 18 plant species found in ditches and identify those with potential for high biomass production and nutrients removal. Terrestrial plants grown in the mesocosm system were shown to be able to acclimate to aquatic conditions and to survive in primary domestic sewage. About 73–95% increase in plant biomass was recorded. Removal efficiencies for total nitrogen, total phosphorus, and ammonium-nitrogen from the sewage of 72–99%, 64–99%, and 75–100%, respectively, were recorded. Furthermore, complete removal of the applied nitrate-nitrogen load was achieved in mesocosm systems. Findings also show that all species, but especially Acorus calamus, Canna indica, Canna lily, Cyperus alternifolius, Colocasia gigantea, Eichhornia crassipes, Iris sibirica, and Typha latifolia had the highest efficiencies for nitrogen and phosphorous removal. The N and P mass balance analysis demonstrated that plant uptake and sediment N and P accumulation accounted for 41–86% and 18–49% of the total influent TN and TP loads, respectively. In addition, the amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous uptake by these plant species were influenced significantly by biomass. The field-culture experiment further identified Canna indica followed by Cyperus alternifolius as the most promising for high biomass production and nutrients uptake. Therefore, these plants may be recommended for extensive use in treating highly eutrophicated rivers. Outcomes of this work can be useful for model design specifications in eco-ditch mitigation of sewage pollution.


Aquatic and terrestrial plants Biomass Non-point source pollutants Vegetated drainage channel Uptake Untreated sewage 



The authors are grateful to the Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41430750), the CAS Western Light Plan, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences—the Third World Academy of Sciences (CAS-TWAS) President’s Fellowship program for developing countries for financial support of this work.

Supplementary material

11356_2017_9992_MOESM1_ESM.docx (12 kb)
Table S1 (DOCX 11 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mathieu Nsenga Kumwimba
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Bo Zhu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Diana Kavidia Muyembe
    • 5
  • Mawuli Dzakpasu
    • 6
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Mountain Surface Processes and Ecological RegulationChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina
  2. 2.Institute of Mountain Hazards and EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina
  3. 3.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of LubumbashiLubumbashiDemocratic Republic of Congo
  5. 5.School of Life Science and EngineeringSouthwest Jiaotong UniversityChengduPeople’s Republic of China
  6. 6.Key Laboratory of Northwest Water Resources, Environment and Ecology, School of Environmental and Municipal EngineeringXi’an University of Architecture and TechnologyXi’anChina

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