The Corcoran Wetland

The success of the research at the Chevron wetland led to our next wetland project at Corcoran, 60 miles north of Bakersfield. In this experiment, we built 10 quarter-acre wetland cells to test the idea that constructed wetlands can be used to solve one of the most serious problems confronting agriculture in California, i.e., the problem of what to do with selenium and heavy metal contaminated irrigation drainage water. Huge amounts of selenium-polluted water are being accumulated in thousands of evaporation ponds throughout California and other western states. Agricultural drainage water differs from industrial wastewater in that it is highly saline and contains several toxic metals in addition to selenium. Each of the 10 wetland cells was planted with different plant species in mono- and mixed-cultures to determine the best plant species composition for maximum selenium removal. The most successful wetlands in this study removed 85% of the selenium from the inflow and removed strontium and vanadium.