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 a 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) . It is estimated (National Audit Office 2010) that 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. It is this research that has prompted Sue Rodgers – Founder of Vetiver Grass UK – to conduct 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 contribute to enhancing water quality, improving legislative compliance and reducing environmental costs.