EXPLORING ALGAL IDENTIFICATION AS A PROXY FOR WATER CHEMISTRY AND POLLUTANT REMOVAL EFFICIENCY IN CONSTRUCTED URBAN WETLANDS IN BINGHAMTON, NY
Algae utilizes nutrients from anthropogenic sources, such as N and P, resulting in rapid growth. The ensuing decay of algal mats increases biological oxygen demand, leading to organismal death and decreased pollutant removal efficiency. By identifying which genera grow in relation to specific water conditions, algae can serve as a phyto-indicator of water quality and pollutant removal efficiency. In collecting algae samples and measuring nutrient levels, electrical conductivity (EC), pH, algae growth, and genera composition were compared to ion concentrations within two constructed wetland ecosystems: newly constructed Bartle Wetland and well-established Lake Lieberman in Binghamton, NY. Water samples were collected and analyzed using ion chromatography and emission spectroscopy to determine the capacity of both wetlands in reducing salinity and removing heavy metals.
The pH and EC trends of both wetlands demonstrated that Lake Lieberman was more efficient at reducing salt concentrations than Bartle Wetland, likely due to its diversified flora present with increasing age, allowing for more tolerance to fluctuating water chemistry. Both systems are capable of heavy metal removal, but neither showed higher removal efficiency. More diversification of algae genera was noted in Bartle Wetland, whereas more species diversity was noted in Lake Lieberman, possibly due to more stable water chemistry. Rhizoclonium and Mougeotia were present in both sites, implying a tolerance for various environments. These analyses were used to determine the role of age in wetland functionality and could prove useful in designing more effective constructed wetlands in the future.