Student Research Projects

Improving Heavy Metal Removal from Storm Water Ponds via Floating Vegetation Mats

Student Joanna Clark, '16
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Chemistry
Course CHEM 489: Research in the Natural Sciences


\"Storm water retention ponds (SWRP) facilitate the removal of nutrients and pollutants to improve the water quality of runoff collected in the ponds before the water enters natural water systems or groundwater. In previous studies, plant life and sediments have been shown to support the removal of heavy metals from urban runoff1. This research used a mesocosm study employing 440 gallon SWRP simulation tanks to examine whether an increase in vegetation via floating vegetated mats would increase the rate at which heavy metals were removed from the water. Spikes were used to increase the heavy metal load and samples were collected to monitor the concentrations of Cu, Cd, Pb and Zn in the simulation tanks over a 10-day period. Samples were analyzed using ICMPS to determine metal concentrations in the water. An increase in the rate of metal removal was observed for tanks containing the vegetated mats during this time frame, suggesting that increased vegetation may improve the efficiency of SWRP for removing metals from urban runoff. Continued studies will examine the absorption of the metal load in the sediments and vegetation in the tanks.

1. Weiss, et al. J Environ. Eng., 2006, 132, 1034-1042.


SERMACS Nov 5-7, 2015