This report “Artificial Wetland for Wastewater Treatment in Choletria, Paphos: Inventory and Assessment of the Ecology” was elaborated by Terra Cypria – The Cyprus Conservation Foundation in November 2020, following a contract with the Cyprus University of Technology. The purpose of this study was the inventory and the initial assessment of the ecology and biological environment from the creation of an artificial wetland for the purpose of natural treatment of the wastewater of Choletria Community in Paphos region.
The wetland in Choletria was reconstructed within the framework of the European Program INTERREG BALKAN-MED Optimisation of decentralised Domestic Wastewater Treatment via constructed wetlands”, “DOMUS-CW” http://domuscw-project.eu/. The purpose of the “DOMUS-CW” project is the upgrade, study and monitoring of artificial wetland systems that treat municipal waste in the Balkans. Specifically, within the project, two artificial wetlands have been upgraded: in Ploutochori, Municipality of Andritsaina – Krestena in Peloponnese, Greece and in the community of Choletria in Paphos, Cyprus, where their performance is evaluated, in order to highlight the prospects of artificial wetlands. The program is coordinated by the Institute of Chemical Engineering (Patras) with the coordinators being Dr Ioanna Ntaikou and Professor Gerasimos Lyberatos. The supervision of the reconstruction, the upgrade and monitoring of the artificial wetland in Cyprus was conducted by Dr. Ioannis Vyrides, in collaboration with Choletria community.
Artificial wetlands for wastewater treatment are systems for the treatment of wastewater by natural – biological processes, similar to those that take place in the natural environment, through soil, vegetation and microorganisms, where pollutants from wastewater are metabolized and removed.
In Choletria community, a wastewater treatment plant with a septic tank was built in 1985, as an artificial wetland of horizontal sub-surface flow. This system did not function properly, since the first years of its operation, due to a combination of reasons. Following relevant studies, the Cyprus University of Technology, within the framework of the above mentioned INTERREG BALKAN-MED European Program and with the support of a specialized consultant (Mr. George Dialynas, Chemical Engineer), reconstructed completely the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) of Choletria Community as a septic tank – artificial wetland, free water surface system, suitable and highly efficient for the Mediterranean climate of Cyprus. The construction works of the new wastewater treatment system of Choletria Community began in November 2019 and were completed in July 2020, where the operation of the WWTP began with the surface flow of wastewater into the wetland. Since then, the wastewater treatment of Choletria Community has been operating as an artificial free water surface wetland, with the aim of efficient treatment of municipal wastewater -at a minimum of secondary treatment- with natural, ecological processes.
In addition to the operational, financial and social benefits of the artificial wetland construction and operation, the present study examines and evaluates the possible “added-value” of this system to the ecology and the biological environment of the area. This evaluation is elaborated through the inventory of the flora and fauna species of the wetland, based on specialized field visits, and the review of the ecosystem services provided by the wetland.
The ecological, social and cultural importance of natural and artificial wetlands is particularly important, as some of them , amongst other things, consist areas of high biodiversity, migratory spots for hundreds of thousands of birds, wintering areas, important indicators of water quality and quantity and a unique resource for sustainable development.
Terra Cypria Foundation elaborated in 2014 the inventory of the Wetlands of Cyprus, with the sponsorship of the MAVA Foundation (MAVA Fondation pour la nature). The Wetlands of Cyprus inventory program lasted 18 months and upon its completion, a total of 373 wetlands were recorded throughout the whole island. Within the framework of this program, almost all the wetlands of Cyprus, with an area of more than 1000 square meters -with the exception of wetlands located within military areas- were recorded and mapped, through site visits, and their condition was evaluated. A relevant database was designed (Cyprus Wetlands, https://cypruswetlands.org/general/report.php?id=390&lang=en), where all available literature and relevant information for each wetland are presented. Following that, in 2017, Terra Cypria took part in the MedisWet program, which aims to record and conserve the wetlands in islands of the Mediterranean. Nine Mediterranean countries participated in the MedisWet program and it was implemented with the sponsorship of the MAVA foundation. The program included actions for inventory of wetlands in all the Mediterranean islands, highlighting their importance and their provided services, as well as the promotion of targeted management measures at local and Mediterranean scale.
The new artificial wetland of Choletria community meets the criteria set in the program Cyprus Wetlands Inventory. Based on this specific methodology, the inventory and the initial ecological evaluation of the wetland was made and it was included in the database of the Cyprus Wetlands, increasing their total number to 374 wetlands.
Based on the above, the following are presented in this report:
- Brief description of the study area
- Inventory of flora and fauna species in the artificial wetland (methodology, results)
- Evaluation of the ecosystem services of the artificial wetland
- Overall assessment of the ecology and biological environment of the artificial wetland
- Suggestions for the optimal operation of the wetland, in order to improve and enhance the ecology and biological environment of the area
- Appendix including the Wetland Inventory Form based on the requirements of the Cyprus Wetlands Inventory program and relevant database
Based on the recordings and an initial evaluation of the species of flora and fauna of the new artificial wetland in Choletria, it became clear that this new wetland offers an added value to the ecology and biological environment of the study area, as well as in the provision of ecosystem services that offer benefits to humans. Although the operation of the artificial wetland does not exceed 4 months (since July 2020) thus consisting an early-developing ecosystem, it has already attracted species of fauna which would not be present in the study area, if it were not for the artificial wetland. These mainly concern bird species, insects and amphibians.
The operation of this wetland system over the years, provided that proper operating and maintenance mechanisms are implemented by Choletria Community, is expected to result into further attracting species of flora and fauna that are related to and benefit from the wetland character of this system.
Finally, it is noted that the inventory and assessment of the ecology of the artificial wetland carried out within the context of the present study, is a first “snapshot” of the newly formed ecosystem that is still evolving. This study is not a thorough and comprehensive assessment of the ecology of the artificial wetland, since this would involve more species recordings during other times of the year, that are important for fauna and flora (e.g. during spring).
Terra Cypria -Το Κυπριακό Ίδρυμα Προστασίας του Περιβάλλοντος. 2020. Τεχνητός Υγρότοπος Επεξεργασίας Λυμάτων στα Χολέτρια, Πάφος. Απογραφή και αξιολόγηση βιοτικού περιβάλλοντος. Ετοιμάστηκε για το Τεχνολογικό Πανεπιστήμιο Κύπρου.