Phosphorus mystery at National Park

By Lin Ferguson

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Massey University environmental engineering Professor Benoit Guieysse who is leading a project with Ruapehu College students. PHOTO/LIN FERGUSON
Massey University environmental engineering Professor Benoit Guieysse who is leading a project with Ruapehu College students. PHOTO/LIN FERGUSON

A group of 12 Ruapehu College students have been selected for specialised field research looking at the issue of phosphorus abundance during wetland wastewater treatment at National Park.

This week they sat in on their first lecture in the Ohakune council chamber with Massey environmental engineering expert Professor Benoit Guieysse who will head the research project.

The research is part of the national "Curious Minds Project" encouraging better scientific and technological understanding for with young people.

The University says there is a mystery at the National Park township.

"The wastewater treatment wetland looks good and provides excellent phosphorus removal when established theories and experience say it shouldn't."

Professor Guieysse said "curious minded" people will ask why?
" So can this reproduced elsewhere?"he said.

Massey, Aquanet and the Ruapehu District Council were collaborating with Ruapehu College in the field research and monitoring at National Park .

It means that the students from Ruapehu will be involved in investigative field research together with experts in environmental sciences ( engineering, policy and education ) and a case-study from this research will be valuable to rural communities, he said.

The project aims to show why phosphorus was removed so efficiently from the treatment wetland in National Park, he said.

"This knowledge could provide a foundation for engineering solutions for rural communities in need of low-cost waste water treatment processes."

It could mean engineering better solutions elsewhere within the district including Whakapapa, Ohakune and Raetihi wastewater treatment, he said.
In the fields Massey PhD students be as mentors to the students supervising their field work.

Ruapehu College Science teacher Meredith Wilson said the project was exciting.
"I selected a cross section of students from my Years 11,12 and 13 classes who I'm sure will get totally involved. It's such a worthwhile opportunity."nderstanding of science and technology for young New Zealanders.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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