Secondarily treated municipal effluent from Breaux Bridge, Louisiana has been discharged into the Cypriere Perdue forested wetland since the early 1950s. Approximately one million gallons per day (3,785 m−3 day−1) are discharged into the 1470 ha wetland, with average total nitrogen and phosphorus loading rates of 1.15 g N m−2 yr−1 and 0.31 g P m−2 yr−1, respectively. Vegetation and water quality of this wetland, along with a reference wetland, were monitored. Study sites were dominated by bald cypress and water tupelo, and species composition did not change significantly during the time of monitoring. Mean litterfall was higher near the effluent discharge point compared to sites located further away or the reference site. Mean stem growth was lower at the site furthest from the discharge point compared to the other sites. Nutrient concentrations measured at the site where water exits the assimilation area and at the reference site were not significantly different. Removal efficiencies for total nitrogen and phosphorus are typical of other forested wetlands receiving treated effluent in Louisiana, ranging between 65 and 90%. These results demonstrate that this wetland assimilates nutrients to background concentrations even after 60 years of operation, stimulating productivity, and causing no measurable impacts to the wetland or to the river into which the water eventually flows.
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Vol. 29 • No. 1