Melaina Dyck

Date of Award


Degree Type



Environmental Health Sciences

Director of Thesis

Jennifer Pournelle, PhD

Second Reader

Joe Jones, PhD


Wetlands provide key ecosystem services that sustain human communities. The Mesopotamiam Marshes of southern Iraq continuously supported civilization there for 6000 years. A combination of upstream damming and intentional draining by the Iraqi government led the entire ecosystem to collapse, devastating local human communities. One of the most significant ecosystem services lost was water remediation, filtration and storage. Following the collapse of the marshes, water quality in southern Iraq declined to the point of being deleterious to human health and barely useful for farming or fish production. Wastewater treatment wetlands are a potential solution for restoring wetlands and remediating polluted water. A testbed marsh at the University of Basrah (UB) was able to clean university sewage water to drinking water standards, and researchers at UB plan to scale the test marsh up to a larger marsh that can treatment all university wastewater. Additionally, this marsh could be connected to an aquaponics operation producing reeds and carp. The long-term goal is to use marshes to treat wastewater and then use cleaned water to farm fish. Based on the productivity of a large fish farm in southern Iraq, and the volume of wastewater produced at UB, such a system could produce over 1200 kg of fish per year.

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