Water Quality Functions of Wetlands: Natural and Managed Systems

  • Robert K. Bastian
  • Jay Benforado


Freshwater, brackish and saltwater wetlands have inadvertently served as natural water treatment systems for centuries. Because of their transitional position in the landscape between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, some wetlands have been subjected to wastewater discharges from both municipal and industrial sources. Wetlands have also received agricultural and surface mine runoff, irrigation return flows, urban stormwater discharges, and other sources of water pollution. It is only in the past few decades, however, that the planned use of wetlands for meeting wastewater treatment and other water quality objectives has been studied and implemented. The functional role of wetlands in water quality improvements has been identified as a compelling argument for wetland preservation (Horowitz, 1978), and in some cases, for creation. Odum (1978) noted that ‘Numerous patches and strips of wetlands ... act as buffers and filters between man’s urban and agricultural development and his most vital natural resource — water.’


Water Quality Wastewater Treatment Natural Wetland Wetland System National Wildlife Refuge 


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© Donal D. Hook 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert K. Bastian
  • Jay Benforado

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