Sewanee’s Constructed Wetland Project

Based on an ongoing collaboration between the University of the South and the University of Georgia, we have built a pilot constructed wetland at the Sewanee Utility District's wastewater treatment facility. If the pilot study shows that a wetland can cost-effectively remove pollutants (including emerging contaminants such as pharmaceuticals) from the wastewater stream, this project might result in the creation of more constructed wetlands in Tennessee, throughout the southeastern U.S., and even internationally.

Project History

2012 -  In the spring of 2012, the Sewanee Utility District engaged ten Environmental Law Practicum graduate students at the University of Georgia and several undergraduates at the University of the South to determine the feasibility, design considerations, and costs associated with a pilot constructed wastewater treatment wetland. The result of the students’ work was an extensive support document, including work on regulatory impact as well as a preliminary wetland design.

2013 -  In the spring of 2013, another Environmental Law Practicum cohort at the University of Georgia continued the 2012 Practicum students’ efforts by suggesting a monitoring program for the pilot treatment wetland, creating educational and public relations material to be used to disseminate information about the wetland project, and detailing opportunities for extracting revenue from the proposed wetland.

2014 -  Based on the Practicum students’ work, the University of the South applied for a grant from the Coca-Cola Foundation to realize the wetland project and eventually received a grant in late 2014.

2016 -  After a year of planning and finalizing the wetland design, the University's contractors Golder Associates and Griffin Environmental Consulting started building the wetland in early 2016. Construction was finished in June and the wetland started operating that same month. University of the South students Megan Hopson and Anna Williams began monitoring the wetland for common water quality indicators in June; sampling for pharmaceuticals started in the fall of 2016.

2017 - The wetlands have now been fully operational for a year. Professors and students continue to saple water and vegetation for pharmaceuticals. The  project hopes to release up to date data in the near future.

We will keep you updated about the further development of the project on this website and our social media platforms.

Construction of the wetland in mid-February.

Construction of the wetland in mid-February.