Many forms of natural heritage manifested as streams, rivers, ponds, lakes and wetlands play an integral role in maintaining natural beauty, health and a high quality of life. Agricultural intensification in southern Ontario has contributed to elevated sediments, nutrient and bacteria levels in water bodies. Vegetative filter strips (VFS) are control measures that can partially remove sediments and pollutants adhered to sediments from overland runoff before entering water bodies. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of vegetation type, width of the filter strip, runoff flow rate and inflow sediment characteristics on effectiveness of the VFS in removing pollutants from runoff. The results show that sediment removal efficiency increased from 50 to 98% as the width of the filter increased from 2.5 to 20 m. In addition to the width of the filter strip, grass type and flow rate were also significant factors. This study indicates that the first five (5) metres of a filter strip are critical and effective in removal of suspended sediments. More than 95% of the aggregates larger than 40 µm in diameter were trapped within the first five metres of the filter strip.

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