How to take the headache out of water pollution using Vetiver

How Vetiver Cleans up Water Pollution

Diffuse Water Pollution (DWP) is a significant cause of water pollution in England and Wales. And is now recognised as the major reason why over 75% of UK water bodies are not meeting the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) requirements. (Houses of Parliament, PostNote 478, 2014) . The National Audit Office 2010 estimate, the cumulative cost of water pollution in England and Wales is £1.3billion per annum. The cost of cleaning this water by Water Companies can add a significant amount to water bills. South West Water estimate that 17% of customers’ bills is for water treatment.

One solution is Phytoremediation which  uses living green plants, to clean up soil, water and air, contaminated with hazardous materials . (UNEP, 2014)  Vetiver has been used world-wide for the treatment of polluted water and contaminated land; it has the capacity to absorb high levels of Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorus(P) and has been shown to reduce N by < 99% and P by < 85% (Truong and Hart, 2001).   

Recent Research (Truong – 2015) had shown that Vetiver can survive in much colder climates than previously thought.  Sue Rodgers – Founder of Vetiver Grass UK – is conducting a PhD research project with the University of Reading.

The project will use field trials to assess whether Vetiver is able to reduce the amount of N&P reaching water-courses meaningfully. As a sterile, non-invasive grass Vetiver poses no threats often associated with non-native species. It is unlikely that Vetiver will absorb similar levels to those in the tropics. But any reduction will enhance water quality, improve legislative compliance and reduce environmental costs.