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Phosphorus Optimal Wetland Demo

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Published Feb. 8, 2024
Updated: Feb. 16, 2024

Birds eye view of a floodplain detailing the process of a phosphorus optimal wetland demonstration.
Layout of a phosphorous optimal wetland demonstration in Defiance, Ohio.
Birds eye view of a floodplain detailing the process of a phosphorus optimal wetland demonstration.
Phosphorous Optimal Wetland Demo
Layout of a phosphorous optimal wetland demonstration in Defiance, Ohio.
Photo By: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
VIRIN: 240208-F-IQ439-001
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has constructed a 10-acre demonstration wetland in Defiance, Ohio, to serve as a model for optimizing phosphorus retention and nonpoint source reduction in agricultural settings. Excess phosphorus runoff in Great Lakes tributaries can contribute to the development of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), with the potential to harm coastal ecosystems, local economies, and threaten human health.

Funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, this project employs a novel approach to improving Great Lakes tributary water quality by constructing a wetland system in a location identified as having high potential to capture and retain phosphorus sorption capacity. An interagency project team from the Army Corps' Engineer Research and Development Center and the U.S. Geological Survey partners to operate, research, and monitor the demonstration wetland. The wetland captures high tributary flows and associated legacy phosphorus loads and filters them through a series of treatment cells.

Construction was completed in the late winter of 2021, with monitoring, control, and field research planned to continue for five years. This project builds on several years of research on soil phosphorus storage capacity and contributes to a better understanding of how phosphorus can be retained on the landscape and kept out of Great Lakes tributaries. The innovative project coordinates with federal partners, including USEPA, NRCS, and USGS, as well as partners at the state and local level, to share lessons learned and inform other wetland restoration project designs to maximize efficiency.

Blue and white logo with the words "Great Lakes Restoration" and an image of the Great Lakes to the right.
Photo By: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
VIRIN: 240207-F-IQ439-001

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Publications

Berkowitz, J. F., Schlea, D. A., VanZomeren, C. M., & Boles, C. M. (2020). Coupling watershed modeling, public engagement, and soil analysis improves decision making for targeting P retention wetland locations. Journal of Great Lakes Research.

Berkowitz, J. F., VanZomeren, C. M., Hurst, N. R., & Sebastian, K. J. (2021). An evaluation of soil phosphorus storage capacity (SPSC) at proposed wetland restoration locations in the western Lake Erie Basin. Environmental Laboratory (U.S.); Engineer Research and Development Center (U.S.).

Currie, S. J., VanZomeren, C. M., & Berkowitz, J. F. (2017). Utilizing wetlands for phosphorus reduction in Great Lakes watersheds : a review of available literature examining soil properties and phosphorus removal efficiency. Environmental Laboratory (U.S.); Engineer Research and Development Center (U.S.).

Hurst, N. R., VanZomeren, C. M., & Berkowitz, J. F. (2022). Temperature, redox, and amendments alter wetland soil inorganic phosphorus retention dynamics in a Laurentian Great Lakes priority watershed. Journal of Great Lakes Research.

Lemke, A. M., Kirkham, K. G., Wallace, M. P., VanZomeren, C. M., Berkowitz, J. F., & Kovacic, D. A. (2021). Nitrogen and phosphorus removal using tile-treatment wetlands: A 12-year study from Midwestern USA. Journal of Environmental Quality.

VanZomeren, C. M., & Berkowitz, J. F. (2020). Evaluating soil phosphorus storage capacity in constructed wetlands : sampling and analysis protocol for site selection. Environmental Laboratory (U.S.); Engineer Research and Development Center (U.S.).

VanZomeren, C. M., Berkowitz, J. F., Lemke, A. M., & Kirkham, K. G. (2019). Soil P Storage Capacity in Agricultural Treatment Wetlands: Can a System Designed for N Reduction Also Retain P? Wetlands.