Conference to discuss the green benefits of man-made wetlands

November 22, 2012

Stormwater treatment reedbeds at The Grove Library which were designed by Dr Dallas and Dr Anda

The use of man-made wetlands to control water-borne pollution will be the topic of an international conference taking place at Murdoch University next week.

The 13th Wetland Systems for Water Pollution Control Conference begins on Monday, November 25, and closes on Wednesday, November 28, with additional sessions for delegates both before and after.

A public forum on wetland systems will also be held in conjunction with the Conference at the City of Canning on Tuesday, November 27, where members of the public can mix with conference delegates to hear different perspectives on issues and experiences in relation to Perth’s wetlands and waterways.

Conference organiser and Murdoch University adjunct lecturer Dr Stewart Dallas said the use of man-made wetlands to treat polluted water and absorb potentially harmful nutrients was becoming more prevalent locally and internationally as more studies into their benefits came to light.

“Man-made wetlands are one of the best ways to treat wastewater,” he said. “Not only are they cheaper to run but they are more aesthetically-pleasing than mechanised waste water treatment plants. In them, wastewater goes through a natural biological process to come out cleaner into our rivers and oceans on the other side.

“They can also treat wastewater to a standard suitable for reuse, such as irrigation, which is a rapidly growing area of interest.
“In Perth we have been building houses over natural wetlands as the city has expanded and so this natural process is being lost. Through man-made wetlands we can address this imbalance.

“As such and because of other environmental incentives, there is a growing interest from industry and business on how best to design and construct them.”

Dr Dallas added that the substantially cheaper running costs of man-made wetlands also made them an attractive prospect for rural areas and developing countries, both subjects which would be addressed at the conference.

“There are plenty of examples of man-made wetlands in urban environments across the Perth metropolitan area,” he added. “The CSBP fertiliser plant in Kwinana has one while others can be seen at The Grove Library in Peppermint Grove, Point Fraser on the Esplanade foreshore and the Canning River foreshore. Conference delegates will have the opportunity to visit all of these sites as part of the conference’s technical tours.

“There are even mini wetlands called Rain Gardens which are being developed to treat the polluted run-off water from roads and car parks.”

Murdoch University researcher Dr Martin Anda will be presenting at the conference on his research into plant-filled outer walls for buildings, known as Greenskins, for the City of Fremantle.

Dr Anda, from the School of Engineering and Energy and his co-researcher Grant Revell from the University of Western Australia, investigated the water consumption of a prototype greywater-fed Greenskin situated in Fremantle and found it was possible to integrate water recycling, renewable energy and biodiversity into the frontage.

Dr Anda’s presentation will also address the aesthetic and sustainable benefits of Greenskins.

The public forum will be held in the Canning Council Civic Function Room, 1317 Albany Highway, Cannington, from 5.30pm. No RSVP is required and refreshments will be provided after the meeting.

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