Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Abinash Agrawal (Advisor), Songlin Cheng (Committee Member), Christina Powell (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Constructed wetlands are an efficient and cost effective means for chlorinated aliphatic hydrocarbon remediation, and will therefore continue to gain momentum as an accepted treatment by the US EPA (U.S. EPA, 1995; Amarante, 2000; Lien, 2001; WETPOL, 2009). The treatment options for chlorinated aliphatic hydrocarbons (CAHs), including wetlands, capitalize on aerobic/anaerobic interfaces in which bacterially mediated reduction-oxidation reactions degrade pollutants (Li, 1997; Bradley, 1998; Lorah and Voytek, 2004; Amon, 2007; Imfeld, 2008). In August 2000, researchers at Wright State University (WSU) combined efforts with the United States Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) to construct a pilot-scale upward-flow treatment wetland on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base with parameters that could remediate perchloroethene (PCE) found in a nearby aquifer (Amon et al., 2007). Eleven studies of short duration have since documented the existance of anerobic and aerobic interfaces by measuring various terminal electron acceptors (sulfate, nitrate, methane, iron) and numerous other parameters. The studies evaluated PCE degradation rates, geochemical profiles, hydraulic conductivity and chlorinated ethene concentrations. (Bugg, 2002; Opperman, 2002; Clemmer, 2003; Kovacic, 2003; BonDurant, 2004; Sobolewski, 2004; Lach, 2004; Schlater, 2006; Mohamud, 2007; Waldron, 2007, Corbin, 2008). The present research has attempted to compile, organize, and re-analyze the data collected by AFIT and WSU researchers during 2001-2006. Data was analyzed using Jenks Optimization (goodness of variance fit) method to identify and remove outliers. Meta analysis of CAH concentrations and redox parameters was performed by creating data subsets of individual piezometer and depths, influent to effluent transect data and ArcGIS maps. The present analysis concludes that a fully functioning wetland with strongly reducing geochemical conditions and flow patterns capable of PCE destruction developed at this site within 18-24 months. Dechlorination of CAHs was observed at every depth and at 63 of 66 sampled locations despite significant differences in hydraulic conductivity and available electron acceptors. Rate of dechlorination varied with depth and hydraulic conductivity. Strongest reducing conditions developed at Middle layer (0.69 m) and demonstrated the highest rates of PCE dechlorination. Maximum degradation of vinyl chloride (VC) and 1,2 dichloroethenes (DCE) occurred in Upper layer (0.23m) where conditions may have been more oxidizing. The size of the pilot-scale treatment wetland generally allowed adequate residence time despite short circuits. However, two exceptions were observed: (i) near the effluent, increases in head pressure, due to laminar flow bring higher concentrations from gravel layer to surface quickly, and (ii) CAHs re transmitted quickly along the wetland's outer boundary, possibly along the soil-PVC liner. Despite these effects, with the exception of one researcher's results, the effluent concentrations for all CAH species remained below their respective MCLs after January 2003. The study suggests that the construction of wetland for the treatment PCE-contaminated groundwater include establishing and employing a grid monitoring system to ascertain geographical boundaries for problem areas, frequent sampling in initial 24 months and establishing controls on influent pumping system to adjust residence time as needed.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Year Degree Awarded