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Sediment and nutrient trapping efficiency of a constructed wetland near Delavan Lake, Wisconsin, 1993-1995

April 1, 1997

Jackson Creek Wetland a 95-acre shallow prairie marsh containing three sediment retention ponds was constructed in 1992 to reduce sediment and nutrient in- flow to eutrophic Delavan Lake. The function of the wetland as a retention system for suspended sediments and nutrients (total and dissolved phosphorus, total ammonia plus organic nitrogen, dissolved ammonia, and nitrite plus nitrate nitrogen) was studied from February 1993 through September 1995. Input and output load computations were based on water flow (discharge) measurements and periodic sampling of suspended sediments and nutrients at the three inflowing streams and at the wetland outflow. Results of the study indicated consistent sediment retention throughout the year; at times, as much as 80 percent of the inflow load was retained in the wetland. Nutrient retention was generally of lesser magnitude and much more variable. Although the annual budgets confirm net retention for all nutrient forms except ammonia, data analysis over shorter time scales show that outflow loads actually can exceed inflow loads during the late spring and summer months the period of greatest likelihood of algal blooms in the lake. This result demonstrates that the nutrient-trapping function of the wetland is variable because of the complexity of the system. Awareness of such variability can help to maintain realistic expectations and effective management practices.