Although numerous mathematical models have been used to describe decomposition, few, if any, have been used to model the removal of pollutants in constructed wetlands. A steady-state model based on decomposition kinetics and reaction stoichiometry has been developed which simulates the removal of ferrous iron entering wetlands constructed for mine drainage treatment. Input variables for the model include organic matter concentration, reaction rate coefficient, porosity and dry density, and hydraulic detention time. Application of the model assumes complete anaerobic conditions within the entire substrate profile, constant temperature, no additional organic matter input, and subsurface flow only. For these ideal conditions, model simulations indicate that wetlands constructed with readily decomposable substrates rich in organic carbon are initially capable of removing far greater amounts of iron than wetlands built with less biodegradable substrates. However, after three to five years of operation this difference becomes negligible. For acceptable long-term treatment performance, therefore, periodic additions of decomposable organic matter will be required.

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