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Floating wetlands

Floating wetlands

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Other name/s

Floating wetland, Floating treatment wetland


Floating wetlands consist of a suspended matrix planted with wetland plants. This facilitates microbiological and plant processing of nutrients.

Floating wetlands encourage settling of sediments contained in the water and also remove nutrients due to plants roots.

The potential mechanisms that provide treatment in floating wetlands are known but the precise contributions are uncertain[1][3][4][5][6]. Plant roots are believed to play a major role in treatment processes within floating wetland systems as the water passes directly through the extensive root system hanging beneath the floating mat. The roots release enzymes, develop extensive biofilms and promote flocculation of suspended matter, at the surface of the submerged plant organs[1].

Other processes that may be important include plant uptake of nutrients and metals if harvested[3][4][5][6], enhancement of anoxic conditions in the water column beneath the floating mat, which promote microbial processes such as denitrification, and promotion of settling and binding of contaminants in the sediment pool[1].

Floating wetlands can be used in existing water bodies or waterways or in a purpose built pond. As they can be used in existing water bodies, they are particularly suited to locations where there is limited space for a constructed treatment wetland or similarly large treatment system.

Highly variable flows are likely to reduce the effectiveness of the treatment[2].

The main services floating wetlands provide include:

  • Water treatment (sediment, nutrients and pesticides)
  • Habitat
  • Amenity

Floating wetland 6 months after planting. Photo by SPEL
Floating wetland with water quality samplers. Photo by SPEL


In addition to the standard disclaimer located at the bottom of the page, please note the content presented is based on published knowledge of treatment systems. Many of the treatment systems described have not been trialled in different regions or land uses in Queensland. The information will be updated as new trials are conducted and monitored. If you have any additional information on treatment systems or suggestions for additional technologies please contact us using the feedback link at the bottom of this page.


  1. ^ a b c Headley, TR & Tanner, CC (2006), Application of Floating Wetlands for Enhanced Stormwater Treatment: A Review, vol. 324, Auckland Regional Council, Auckland.
  2. ^ Nichols, P, Lucke, T, Drapper, D & Walker, C (2016), 'Performance Evaluation of a Floating Treatment Wetland in an Urban Catchment', Water, vol. 8, p. 244.
  3. ^ a b Olguín, EJ, Sánchez-Galván, G, Melo, FJ, Hernández, VJ & González-Portela, RE (2017), 'Long-term assessment at field scale of Floating Treatment Wetlands for improvement of water quality and provision of ecosystem services in a eutrophic urban pond', Science of the Total Environment, vol. 584-585, pp. 561-571.
  4. ^ a b Pavlineri, N, Skoulikidis, NT & Tsihrintzis, VA (2017), 'Constructed Floating Wetlands: A review of research, design, operation and management aspects, and data meta-analysis', Chemical Engineering Journal, vol. 308, pp. 1120-1132.
  5. ^ a b Tondera, K, Blecken, GT, Chazarenc, F, Lucke, T & Tanner, CC (2018), 'Chapter 2 Treatment Techniques for Variable Flows', in K Tondera & et al. (eds), Ecotechnologies for the Treatment of Variable Stormwater and Wastewater Flows, Springer.
  6. ^ a b Wang, CY, Sample, DJ, Day, SD & Grizzard, TJ (2015), 'Floating treatment wetland nutrient removal through vegetation harvest and observations from a field study', Ecological Engineering, vol. 78, pp. 15-26.

Last updated: 5 October 2018

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2018) Floating wetlands, WetlandInfo website, accessed 13 May 2021. Available at:

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Science