A tracer study is an efficient method of determining flow dynamics within a constructed wetland. In previous studies, a number of tracer studies have been carried out on various constructed wetlands covering a wide range of configurations. From these tracer studies it is evident that all constructed wetlands perform differently and generally with less efficiency than assumed by theoretical design computations. During the summer of 2004, a tracer study was performed on a constructed wetland located in Embrun, Ontario (Canada) treating milkhouse wastewater and agricultural runoff to determine its actual hydraulic performance. Sediment height and vegetation density profiles were also obtained and examined to explain the preferential flow pathways that were observed during the tracer analysis. It was determined that the constructed wetland had an effective treatment area representing 79% of the total area, and that the hydraulic efficiency of the system was 74%. Examination of the sediment height and vegetation density profiles resulted in no evidence of physical pathways that could be attributed to the establishment of preferential flow. The hydraulic efficiency was therefore attributed to the inflow and outflow layout of the constructed wetland cell, combined with wind induced mixing.

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