Wetlands and Water Quality

© Michael Furtman

Wastewater discharge and nonpoint runoff cause economic losses of approximately $4.3 billion annually.1 Implementing wetlands projects to address stormwater and combined sewer systems has been shown to save cities hundreds of millions of dollars compared to replacing or expanding traditional treatment facilities. 2 As the world leader in delivering wetland conservation projects, Ducks Unlimited (DU) provides the most effective science-based solutions to environmental challenges. Wetlands and bordering uplands are one of the most effective natural water quality filters when sited, designed, and managed properly. DU has an in-house staff of biologists, real estate specialists and engineers who can provide water quality solutions on public and private lands.

As demands on our land and water resources increase, so does the number of pollutants transported through waterways. At low concentrations, many of the nutrients, minerals, and metals in soil and water are necessary components of a healthy planet, but when concentrations exceed safe levels these elements can become harmful to plants, animals, and humans.

Unchecked sediments carried by water flowing down rivers harbor pollutants such as nitrogen, phosphorus, harmful pathogens and toxic metals. Wetlands slow water, allowing sediments to settle into the soil where pollutants can be trapped. Vegetation, including below ground roots and above ground stems and leaves, collects nutrients needed for plant growth. When these plants die, the decomposing vegetation provides carbon and other nutrients to support microbial communities that transform nutrients and some metals into less toxic forms and concentrations that support next season’s plant growth. In fact, microbes are capable of transforming metals and chemicals into volatile elements that simply escape to the atmosphere, removing the pollutant from the system altogether. Additionally, wetland basins offer opportunity for water to recharge aquifers where water is stored underground and is cleaned as it transfers through the soil.

With more than 80 years of experience in siting, designing, and constructing wetlands, DU is the go-to organization to implement wetland solutions to water quality problems. We have an in-house staff of technical experts versed in wetland and grassland restoration and protection who can design and deliver your project from beginning to end. Our experts understand water rights, water quality regulations and water policy. Our in-house legal counsel can assist with conservation easements and long-term stewardship of water and land resources. We work on public and private lands to restore ecological integrity to wetland and upland landscapes. We do it for waterfowl, but the work benefits us all.