The New York Times NY Times Floating Islands to the Rescue published an article on Wednesday April 24 about an innovative way to duplicate the function of the Mississippi watershed wetlands that have been disappearing in recent years.  Small scale “islands” are created within the watershed, using cast-off soda bottles and other plastic and seeding them with native plants.  Preliminary research indicates that 250 square feet of these islands could replace about an acre of wetlands in filtering capability.

The disappearance of wetlands and seasonally inundated floodplains has reduced the filtering capacity of the river system.  These areas have been leveed, developed and farmed, significantly changing their historic function.  The “concentrated wetland effect” allows excess nutrients in the water to be used to grow the native plantings, eliminating them from the watershed.  This technique mirrors the naturally occurring floating peat bogs found in the upper reaches of Minnesota.

Use of innovative techniques can help reduce levels of nutrients in our waters.  This is one technique to watch.