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Chapter 12: Wetlands

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Pages 287-302 (doi:10.13031/swce.2013.12) in Soil and Water Conservation Engineering, 7th Edition . Copyright 2013 American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Mich.
Authors:   Rodney L. Huffman, Delmar D. Fangmeier, William J. Elliot, Stephen R. Workman
Keywords:   and section headings: Soil, water, conservation, environment, Wetlands, Wetland Definition, Wetland Classification, 12.1 Marine Wetlands, 12.2 Estuarine Wetlands, 12.3 Lacustrine Wetlands, 12.4 Riverine Wetlands, 12.5 Palustrine Wetlands, Wetland Function

Introductory paragraphs: Wetlands have had a profound effect on the world ecosystem. Much of our fossil fuel supplies were formed in the swampy environments of the Carboniferous Period approximately 300 million years ago. Most of our world's population centers were developed on or adjacent to what are now classified as wetland areas. People were drawn to these areas because of easy access to food, transportation, and clean water. Examples include Mexico City, Mexico; Cairo, Egypt; Paris, France; Tokyo, Japan; Christchurch, New Zealand; and Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New Orleans of the United States.

Wetlands are sources, sinks, and transformers of a multitude of chemical, biological, and genetic materials, making them important ecosystems. They have been described as the "kidneys of the landscape" because of their ability to cleanse polluted waters. The capabilities of natural wetlands have been widely recognized and, taking a lesson from nature, artificial or constructed wetlands are being designed to treat a wide range of waste streams.

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