Effect of Cattails in Reducing Nitrate Pollution

2011 Fairfax County Regional Science and Engineering Fair

The abstract below was written by the student. The Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District made no editorial changes.

Effects of Cattails in Reducing Nitrate Pollution

by Kiren Ajrawat, Oakton High School


This project in its present form is the result of bioassay experimentation on the effect of the Cattail plant on the Nitrate pollution level of wet stormwater ponds. The initial idea was to locate stormwater ponds that naturally grow Cattails and determine if the Nitrate levels of theses stormwater ponds was less than the ponds without any Cattails growth. To address this question, water samples were taken from 10 locations of stormwater ponds with heavy Cattail growth in Fairfax, Arlington and Alexandria; 10 water samples from areas of stormwater ponds with Cattails, but of locations with no Cattails were present, representing the Control; and 10 water samples from areas of stormwater ponds with no Cattail growth. Water samples were collected for a period of approximately one month. Pollution was determined by measuring the level of Nitrate, a problematic pollution source in local watersheds, rivers and bays. Nitrate pollution was present in all stormwater pond samples from all geographic locations where samples were taken, but the level of pollution was significantly higher in stormwater ponds without Cattails. A positive correlation existed between the reduced percent of Nitrate in the stormwater ponds with cattails. Results may serve to promote community eduction, policies and further research that address how plants can be used as a filtration method in absorbing pollutants from various stormwater pond locations before Nitrate pollution impacts local watersheds and bays.

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