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United Nations Environment Programme
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Freshwater Management Series No. 7

Phytotechnologies

A Technical Approach in Environmental Management

IV. Important Considerations For The Application of Phytotechnologies >

D. Operations and Maintenance

Mountain fields being irrigated by water sprays

An operations and maintenance plan will ensure optimal performance of the phytotechnology application. The level of detail in an operations and maintenance plan is a function of the type of phytotechnology being use. For example, a more detailed operation and maintenance plan would likely be required for wetland operations than for a riparian buffer.

The operation and maintenance plan should address a wide variety of requirements. An irrigation system may be needed to start plants or to keep them growing. Soil conditions should be monitored for pH, fertilizer requirements, and needed soil amendments. The site may need fencing to keep out people and animals. The site maintenance plan should address pruning, thinning, mowing, weed control and litter removal.

Table 8 lists some of the parameters that should be part of an operations and maintenance plan for phytotechnology applications.

Table 8: Operations and Maintenance Requirements for Phytotechnologies

Operations Parameter Maintenance Requirement
Soil conditions Maintain soil amendments, soil pH, and fertilizer requirements
Irrigation system Irrigation system may be needed to start plants and may be needed during drought conditions
Plant maintenance Plants may need to be thinned, pruned, mowed and treated to control weeds
Fencing Fencing may need to be installed to keep people and animals out. Fencing is an important safety factor when wetlands are used.
Replanting Replanting will be required for annual plants. Replanting trees will be required if they are damaged or fail to grow.
Vector control Phytotechnology applications attract mice, rats, starlings and other vectors that may be a nuisance. A suitable control plan will be needed.
Monitoring well maintenance Monitoring wells will be needed and they require some maintenance.
Disposal of plant waste Plant waste will need to be collected and disposed of properly. For some phytoremediation applications, plant waste may need to be treated as a hazardous waste.
Stormwater runoff Best management practices should be used to control stormwater runoff from the site
Mechanical support systems Maintenance will be required for mechanical systems
Wetlands systems Pond maintenance, plant harvesting, influent and effluent monitoring, and sediment control will be required.

E. Monitoring

The monitoring plan for a phytotechnology site needs to address environmental quality objectives and use established sampling protocols. Monitoring of groundwater, soil, sediment, plants, air and surface water at the site will initially be required. The monitoring plan must address basic issues affecting plant health including soil nutrients, soil pH, soil microbial activity and tree sap flow monitoring. Water monitoring at a site where a phytotechnology is being applied should include soil water, groundwater, surface water, runoff and effluent (from a wetland). The frequency and types of water tests will be site-specific, depending upon site conditions.

The monitoring plan should be designed to collect data to optimize the phytotechnology system, monitor the adverse impacts to the ecosystem, and measure progress in meeting overall objectives. The monitoring plan should therefore contain the following basic elements:

Constituents, parameters, or items to be monitored,
Frequency and duration of monitoring,
Monitoring/sampling methods,
Monitoring locations,
Analytical methods,

Quality assurance/ quality control (QA/QC) requirements.

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