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Growth of floating aquatic macrophytes in alkaline industrial wastewaters.


Ponds holding industrial wastewater can quickly develop algal blooms, which in turn results in high pH excursions. Such deterioration in water quality is experienced in Portland Aluminium's retardation pond. A covering of floating aquatic plants, such as Azolla filiculoides and Lemna minor, will reduce the light entering the water body, in turn reducing algal production and lowering pH levels. In the case of Portland Aluminium's retardation pond, the initial installation of such a system has to be established under alkaline conditions and in high fluoride concentrations (up to 10 mg/L). The survival and growth of A. filiculoides and L. minor under alkaline conditions (pH levels of 7-9.5) and under different fluoride concentrations (0-10 mg/L) were assessed in the laboratory and in field conditions. L. minor grew well under alkaline and high fluoride conditions in short-term laboratory tests, but appeared unable to compete with itinerant algae in the field. A. filiculoides survived only in media of pH 7 and 0-mg/L fluoride in the short-term laboratory tests, but grew very well in the long-term field experiments. A. filiculoides was also observed to inhibit algal growth in the field. Both species absorbed fluoride. Fluoride concentrations in the plants rose and fell in relation to the fluoride concentrations in the pond, suggesting that the fluoride was readily desorbed and that the absorption itself was by a passive mechanism.