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Cattails: Cleaning Up The Environment
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Tomorrow's World Viewpoint
Published 6 months ago |
All communities are faced with the constant challenge of safely disposing of sewage. Sewage treatment that will render effluent harmless to the environment is actually very expensive. In many places the cost is such that effluent is simply dumped in rivers, lakes or seas. One only needs to think back to the Rio Olympics in Brazil to illustrate the devastating effect of such practices.

The town of Humboldt, Saskatchewan needed a new treatment plant that it could not afford. A researcher, Dr. G. Lakshman, was given permission to develop two very small and very shallow lagoons outside of the community. In its carefully designed 8-inch deep trenches, workers planted thousands of cattails or bulrushes. Lakshman believed believed that marsh plants in general, and cattails in particular, had insatiable appetites for sewage, and were perhaps the root of the solution for waste treatment in such areas. He reasoned such plants normally exist at the bottom of drainage basins, and are at the receiving end of all the material that eventually gets washed into low areas by rain and gravity.

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