From wetland to farm and back again: phosphorus dynamics of a proposed restoration project

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We studied the phosphorus dynamics in a former wetland, which had been converted to a celery farm, and now consists of two shallow, flooded ponds that are being proposed for aquatic habitat restoration. However, like many agricultural areas, this site is plagued by phosphorus legacy issues. Proposed restoration includes hydrologic reconnection of these ponds to its adjacent stream, which are now isolated from one another by an earthen berm, to create a wetland complex. One of the two flooded ponds was partially dredged, whereas the other one has remained undredged. Water column, sediment pore water, and sediment total phosphorus concentrations were significantly greater in the undredged pond compared to the dredged pond, but in both cases phosphorus levels in the water columns (mean TP 929 vs. 133 μg/L in undredged vs. dredged ponds, respectively) would exacerbate downstream water quality issues if hydrologic reconnection occurred without first addressing the phosphorus issue. Sediment isotherm and maximum sorption data indicated that the sediments are close to phosphorus saturation in the undredged pond; simulated dredging of the cores revealed that exposure of deeper sediment layers would increase sorption capacity. Pore water SRP concentrations increased with sediment depth and were significantly greater in the undredged vs. dredged pond at both the 1–4-cm depth (2249 vs. 112 μg/L) and 14–17-cm depth (5506 vs. 222 μg/L). This study provides a framework for other projects that need to balance the competing demands of habitat restoration vs. water quality when restoring wetlands that have been converted to agricultural production.




Steinman, A. D., & Ogdahl, M. E. (2016). From wetland to farm and back again: phosphorus dynamics of a proposed restoration project. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 23(22), 22596–22605.

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