The wetlands that once ringed the Inner Harbor years ago are now gone, taking with them the ecosystem's natural ability to filter water.
The National Aquarium and the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore have teamed up to build and install a small floating wetland. They've modeled it after natural peat based floating islands found in the environment.
"It'll be that last line of defense as runoff comes off the landscape, it will be absorbed by this island, take nutrients out of the water, clear the water, introduce extra oxygen into the water,and create a refuge around it where fish will be attracted," said Dave Nemerson from the National Aquarium.
Floating Islands, properly called BioHaven® Floating Treatment Wetlands or FTW offer a natural, cost effective, virtually maintenance free solution to improve water quality, reduce the effects of erosion and beautify waterscapes.
Made from recycled plastics the floating wetlands represent the cutting-edge of the emerging Green infrastructure revolution. By mimicking natural floating islands and harnessing their natural processes to clean polluted water, the recycled plastic wetlands represent biomimicry at its best.
Independent research studies have verified that BioHaven Floating Islands can effectively remove pollutants (including nitrates, phosphates, ammonia and toxic metals) from a water body.
A Biohaven® Floating Island is a man-made ecosystem, invented in the USA, that mimics naturally occurring wetlands. Islands are constructed from matrix sheets, derived from non-woven 100% recycled PET plastic. The matrix sheets are then bonded together with marine foam to provide buoyancy. Plants grow on the matrix sheets hydroponically, or without soil, and provide a highly efficient, natural way to improve water quality and buffer habitats against surges in nutrients and pollution.
Aside from the Baltimore Inner Harbor program Floating Islands have been established throughout Maryland waterways including:
- Lake Lariat, Lusby MD - Chesapeake Ranch Estates
- Diamond Teaque Park, Anacostia River, Washington D.C.
- Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center (CBEC), Grasonville, MD
- City of Annapolis, Back Creek Nature Preserve
So it seems that, yes, recycled plastic can help clean the bay.