Yukon College Home Research & Innovation Passive Treatment of Mine Impacted Water in Cold Climates: A Review

Passive Treatment of Mine Impacted Water in Cold Climates: A Review

Passive Treatment of Mine Impacted Water in Cold Climates: A Review

In this review, we evaluate the challenges encountered and the adaptations required for the successful treatment of mine-impacted waters in cold climates with Passive Treatment Systems (PTSs). Engineered PTSs are modeled on natural wetlands, which have been shown to effectively treat water with high metal concentrations through natural attenuation. PTSs include constructed wetlands, bioreactors, and hybrid systems. Some of the challenges associated with implementing cold climate PTSs include cold temperatures, remote locations and limited access in winter, which can lead to freezing pipes and surface water, variable seasonal flow, and low productivity of microbial and macrophytic communities. Many adaptations have been implemented to address these cold climate challenges including burial of pipes to avoid hydraulic failure, insulation to avoid freezing surface waters, bypasses and overflows to maintain constant flow, summer establishment of microbial and macrophytic communities and the addition of liquid carbon sources to offset reduced organic matter decomposition in cold temperatures. While further investigation and development is necessary to fully understand the factors affecting cold climate PTSs, with sufficient research and planning PTSs can be successfully implemented in cold climates.