Influence of varying nutrient and pesticide mixtures on abatement efficiency using a vegetated free water surface constructed wetland mesocosm

The nutrient and pesticide abatement efficiency of varying mixtures was examined in a vegetated free water surface constructed wetland. Three different agricultural chemical pollutant mixture conditions were assessed: nutrients only (N and P); pesticides only (atrazine, S-metolachlor and permethrin); and a mixture of nutrients and pesticides. With nutrients only, 672 h nutrient mitigation of 77–91% total phosphorous (TP) and 74–98% total nitrogen (TN) was associated with distance from the injection point and rainfall, whereas with nutrient and pesticide mixtures, 672 h nutrient mitigation of 11–71% TP and 84–98% TN were associated with distance and time. With pesticides only, 672 h pesticide mitigation of 50–99% was associated with distance and time, whereas with nutrients and pesticide mixtures, 672 h pesticide mitigation of 48–99% was associated primarily with distance. Dissipation half-lives were 2–10 times greater for P and 1.5–5 times greater for N when pesticides were present. Pesticide dissipation half-lives showed no clear differences with or without nutrients. While vegetated free water surface constructed wetlands can be effective best management practice tools to trap and abate agricultural run-off during rainfall events, efficiencies can be affected by different types of complex pollutant mixtures and wetland design and implementation should accommodate varying efficiencies.