With ever-tightening water quality rules, tertiary treatment to remove the last 2% of polluting ammonia and pathogens is mandated for small towns in Iowa. Lagoons and sand filters work in the warm weather but fail 5 months of the year for legal discharge. Small towns in rural America often have financial and talent limitations so meeting new treatment require a new technical approach. Proposed upgrades using ‘conventional’ civil engineering technology will cost small town their biggest tax increase ever. Rhizosphere microbes and root functions can adequately treat this low-concentration waste water year-round if dose matches capacity. Future phyto is a solution but regulations and technology upgrades are needed to enable broad adoption that works. Biomass and sustainability are two benefits when Salicaceae family plants are core design species for these projects.
This project is supported by an Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2011-68005-30407 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).