SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Springfield’s city and parks employees are experimenting with artificial wetlands to combat algae that has clogged the water in recent years.
Workers spent this week seeding wood-framed floating rectangles with six species of water plants at Sequiota Park. The city hopes the plants will soak up nitrogen and phosphorous that has triggered algae blooms in the past, the Springfield News-Leader reported .
“There are 30 4-foot-by-8-foot floating wetlands that will be lashed together and anchored to the bottom,” said Miles Park, assistant parks director. “Each one is wrapped with chicken wire to keep the geese off the small plants.”
The plants are expected to stretch their roots downward and take up the phosphorous and nitrogen, which are often swept into the water in the form of lawn fertilizer, rain runoff, and dog and goose manure.
“The rush and pickerel plants, in particular, are phosphorous-eating machines,” Park said. “They grow relatively quickly, but we don’t expect them to make much of a difference this year. Over time though, hopefully, we’ll see a significant decrease in the algae.”
Park visitors complained last summer after algae covered nearly the entire surface of Sequiota’s lake. Park said it would be too labor-intensive to try scraping the algae out of the lake, especially because it would quickly grow back.
The artificial wetlands will serve a dual purpose, said Carrie Lamb, a water quality compliance officer with the city’s department of environmental services.
“Not only will they take up nutrients from the water, they are made with native Missouri aquatic plants,” she said. “They’ll provide habitat for Missouri pollinators and shade for aquatic creatures.”
Other Springfield lakes that get algae blooms may use similar designs if the artificial wetlands work.