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New floating wetlands to clean urban waters

Ten small islands planted with native plants now float on South Lake Park with the goal to filter the water. The City of Overland Park recently installed floating wetlands to help protect water quality.

Floating wetlands are small ecosystems of wetland plants created on top of a buoyant surface. Each island at South Lake Park was constructed with a floating base made from recycled water bottles, and then planted with 100 native plants. The ten 100 square-foot islands add 1,000 new native plants to the lake surface.

“The installation of these floating wetlands is an exciting opportunity to better the water quality of South Lake, and to utilize the data collected to look for other opportunities to improve Overland Park’s waterways,” said City Water Quality Specialist Cloey Adrian. “Adding green infrastructure and native plants not only helps to prevent damage from outside pollutants, but protects these important ecosystems.”

In the hot summer months, harmful algae blooms can produce toxic effects on humans, pets, fish, and animals. The root systems of the wetland plants can absorb algae-causing fertilizers out of the water.

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Floating wetlands are growing in popularity in cities as a green infrastructure tool to filter contaminants in urban waterways.

Yale Environment 360 story recently shared how researchers are studying and quantifying the benefits of these wetlands, including one report that found “one acre of floating wetland can absorb the nutrient pollution from seven to 15 acres of urban development.”

The city first installed its first 50 square-foot wetland at South Lake Park in 2008, and are looking at expanding the program to other lakes in need of water filtration.

South Lake Park is a 14-acre park for outdoor activities including fishing, a playground, and a loop trail located at 7601 W. 86th St., Overland Park, KS.

To learn more about the city’s sustainability efforts, visit


Photo by the City of Overland Park.

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