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Treatment systems

Treatment systems are engineered landscape features used to treat pollutants in surface and groundwater. They comprise various technologies including constructed treatment wetlands. Multiple treatment systems combine to form a treatment train.

This page focuses on systems to treat pollutants contained in rural run-off. If you have suggestions for additional technologies contact us via email.

For information on urban stormwater treatment and water sensitive urban design (WSUD) go to Healthy Waterways.

Treatment chains

Quick facts

treatment wetlands are often created for the purpose of treating wastewater, or stormwater run-off. However, they may also be created for other purposes such as land rehabilitation for mining and refinery projects, erosion control, or environmental offsetting.

Treatment systems are engineered to provide one or a number of solutions to water management. Some examples of treatment systems include:

  • rainwater tanks
  • raingardens
  • pollutant traps
  • vegetated swales
  • sediment basins
  • denitrifying bioreactors
  • treatment wetlands
    • floating wetlands
    • shellfish reefs

These systems can be effective in regulating the concentration of pollutants such as sediment, nutrients and pesticides in water.

Treatment systems can contribute to improved water quality at a catchment scale when widely adopted in on-farm management practices. When multiple treatment systems are combined they form a treatment train. Treatment trains range from paddock-scale to sub-catchment and catchment scale systems.

Treatment options should not be seen as a replacement for other farm management best practices. Instead, treatment systems should be used in combination with these.

Treatment systems in coastal catchments


The treatment systems resources provided here are a reflection of the presentations at the time of the Treatment Forum and are not Queensland Government policy. Neither the Queensland Government nor the Department of Environment and Science (DES) accept liability for any decisions made or actions taken on the basis of this information. In particular, users are advised to refer to the current acts and regulations of the Queensland Parliament which DES administers and current DES policies and practices.

Treatment systems in coastal catchment summary report

The summary report provides a summary of the speakers’ present ations, questions and answers from the Treatment Systems in Coastal Catchments Forum held on 8 July 2016.

The Forum provided an overview of innovative new approaches to treatment systems, including constructed wetlands, floating wetlands, bioreactors, algae treatment and other technologies, which have the potential to reduce nutrients and pesticides from diffuse rural sources in the coastal catchments of Queensland.

For more information on various treatment systems see the videos below.

Overview of monitoring in SEQ and GBR catchments

Ryan Turner, Principal Scientist, Department of Science Information Technology Innovation

Nutrient budgets, pools and processes in wetlands

Phil Moody, Science Division, Department of Science, Information, Technology and Innovation

Can wetlands save the reef?

Dr. Tom Headley, Water and Carbon Group

Wet/Dry Tropics Constructed wetlands

Dr Peter Breen, E2DesignLab

Landscape scale wetlands for water quality improvements

Dr Mark Bayley, Australian Wetlands Consulting (AWC)

Floating treatment wetlands

Andy Hornbuckle, SPEL Environmental and University of the Sunshine Coast

Denitrifying bioreactors—opportunities for nitrate removal

Prof Louis Schipper, University Waikato

Bioremediation using freshwater algae

Andrew Lawson, MBD Energy Limited


Dr Simon Tannock, AlgaEnviro

Shellfish reefs for water quality treatment

Susie Chapman, Healthy Waterways and Catchments

Additional information

The Wetland Management Handbook is a useful resource, providing information and advice on planning, designing, constructing, managing and maintaining constructed wetlands.

National Standards for the practice of Ecological Restoration in Australia

Fact sheets


Last updated: 30 October 2017

This page should be cited as:

Treatment systems, WetlandInfo 2017, Department of Environment and Science, Queensland, viewed 30 July 2018, <>.

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Science