Cattails for Clean Community Waterways

International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
A PinP photo.

WINNIPEG: In 2013, the City of Winnipeg and IISD embarked on a project to turn locally harvested cattail (Typha) and native prairie grasses into pellets to burn in a pellet stove located at the Living Prairie Museum, a facility run by the City. This video documents the process of harvesting, processing, pelletizing and burning the plant materials.
This project has multiple benefits. Cattail and grasses absorb large amounts of phosphorus, a nutrient that can cause algal blooms when it enters waterways. Harvesting cattail and prairie grasses captures this phosphorus before it can enter urban waterways and Lake Winnipeg—which was named the most threatened lake in the world in 2013 by the Global Nature Fund. At the same time, renewable and sustainable bioenergy is produced. The pellets were used to provide space heating for the Living Prairie Museum in the winter and spring of 2014.

IISD has been exploring the use of cattail harvesting to improve water quality for more than eight years. This project was the first time IISD applied the concept in an urban setting.

Watch video here.


John Fefchak said…

Grasping at Cattails‏

It may not be a story,as such, but it certainly is an example that
even scientists are grasping at cattails in their efforts to help
clean the waters of Lake Winnipeg.

Re: (CBC News Jul. 27.Cattails could help restore Lake Winnipeg)
In June of 2012 a similar article titled "Pulling cattails latest fix for Lake Winnipeg" made opposite headlines for restoring the lakes waters.

Scientists then wanted to harvest the cattails loaded with phosphorus and also
to help prevent spreading. This makes me wonder if they realized that 'nature' was only
doing its work and the reseeding of new and spreading cattails was necessary to
help overcome and absorb the abundance of phosphorus.
Now it seems that humans are attempting to do,what is a natural phenomena in the
world of nature.
I believe that natures actions make better sense and is in harmony as intended.
The excessive phosphorus, for the most part, is a Man Made Problem.

(1) Why are there so many cattails,reeds, etc. in our waters?
Ans: Because they are doing a service. It is natures way of absorbing phosphorus.

(2) Is there too much phosphorus getting into our waters?
Ans: That is correct.

(3) Isn't that the problem..then? Shouldn't we (people,government,etc.) be more
conscientious of reducing the phosphorus that is polluting our waters.
Ans: Correct again.

(4) Then why doesn't government and everybody else, re-act and become more
diligent and focused to do this?
Ans: I don't know. I'd like to use a help line and phone a friend.

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