The term ‘green’ is nowadays widely used (and misused) in connection with many types of technologies. If a technology is ‘green’ it usually means that the technology requires less non-renewable energy sources than other alternatives. However, other parameters need to be considered as well, such as sustainability, recycling potential, treatment capacity and potential, conservation of ecosystems, etc. In this paper the energy requirements and nutrient recycling potential of constructed wetlands and wastewater aquaculture facilities are compared with that of conventional wastewater treatment technologies. The energy requirements of constructed wetlands are very low, but if significant reuse of nutrients is included (aquaculture), the energy requirements increase significantly and usually beyond the energy equivalent of the biomass produced. This is especially true in cold temperate climates where the aquaculture systems need to be housed in heated greenhouses and artificial light must be provided to secure operation throughout the year. In countries where fresh water itself is a limiting resource and where the economic capability may limit the use of artificial fertilisers, the reuse potential of wastewater may be more important. The potential for sustainable cropping of the plant biomass is excellent in tropical wetlands as the plants have a high productivity and a continuous growing season. In order to evaluate in more detail the ‘greenness’ of the different wastewater treatment technologies, the life-cycle approach might be applied. However, because constructed wetlands, besides the water quality improvement function, perform a multitude of other functions such as biodiversity, habitat, climatic, hydrological and public use functions, methodologies need to be developed to evaluate these functions and to weigh them in relation to the water quality issues.
Research Article|August 01 1999
Hans Brix; How ‘Green’ Are Aquaculture, Constructed Wetlands and Conventional Wastewater Treatment Systems?. Water Sci Technol 1 August 1999; 40 (3): 45–50. doi: https://doi.org/10.2166/wst.1999.0133
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