How Do Floating Treatment Wetlands Work?

Maintaining compliance under stricter regulations with aging equipment and limited budgets is a continuous juggling act for communities around the world. This challenge lends to the desire to find cost-effective solutions for wastewater treatment.

Floating Treatment Wetlands (FTW) are an innovative solution engineered to enhance the natural processes that occur between water, plants, and micro organisms in order to remove contaminants from wastewater and stormwater in a passive and natural way.

Floating Treatment Wetlands provide a foundation for plants to grow. The matrix is open and porous in structure, which enables the plants’ roots to spread throughout ultimately creating a vast activated surface area for microbes and bacteria to live. The microbes and bacteria attach to the roots, the microscopic root hairs of the plants and on the fibers of the matrix. The microbes and bacteria secrete a sticky film called biofilm, where total suspended solids (TSS) are either trapped or settle. The microbes and bacteria digest the organic matter and nutrients, including biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), nitrogen and phosphorus through a process called bioremediation.

Biological Treatment takes place below

the water where hanging root systems grow.

There are 3 Critical Elements for Effective Biological Water Treatment:

1. Surface Area

The fibrous matrix along with the roots of the hydroponically grown vegetation create an extensive network of surface area for pollutant eating microbes and bacteria to live.

  • 1 ft2 of planted Floating Treatment Wetland has approximately 3300 ft2 of surface area.

2. Hydraulic Retention Time (HRT)

Through the use of attached flow curtains Floating Treatment Wetlands control water flow thereby maximizing retention time. This allows for more treatment time.

3. Vegetation

Through photosynthesis plant roots secrete sugar and oxygen for microbes and bacteria to feed on. The microbes and bacteria in return, give the plants food such as nitrogen, phosphorous and ammonia through a process called phytoremediation.

Floating Treatment Wetlands are Effective for:

  • Anaerobic Digestion
  • Nitrification Processes
  • De-nitrification and Polishing
  • Removal of Total Suspended Solids (TSS)
  • Reduction in Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD)
  • Reduction in Fecal Coliforms
  • Reduction in Phosphorus
  • Reduction in Turbidity

Close-up view of plant roots.

What is a Floating Treatment Wetland?

Floating Treatment Wetlands (FTWs) are an emerging innovation in green technology that have demonstrated significant potential for wastewater and stormwater management.

Martin Ecosystems’ Floating Treatment Wetlands are manufactured using 100% recycled polyethylene terephthalate, commonly referred to as PET plastic, the same plastic used to make drinking bottles. The PET fibers are bonded together forming a non-toxic, non woven fibrous matrix, creating the advantage of having an open structure with a vast surface area for biological treatment to occur.

“The use of recycled plastic prevents thousands of water bottles from ending up in landfills each year.”

FTWs are designed to float on the surface, providing a medium for emergent wetland plants to grow hydroponically – plants grow above the water with root systems submerged beneath the water. It is designed with years of scientific research combined with proven biological processes.

Floating Treatment Wetlands provide value for money and benefits above those of traditional water treatment systems. The low cost and modular design allows for customization of wastewater treatment needs in both new and old systems. FTWs extend the life of existing assets by retrofitting Floating Treatment Wetlands into current ponds.

America’s wastewater infrastructure recently received a grade of “D” according to the 2013 infrastructure report card provided by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). With an estimated cost of $298 billion over the next twenty years to get it back into working condition, finding cost effective water treatment systems is imperative.

“In the late 1980s and 1990s, FTWs were applied to the treatment of acid mine drainage in Canada with the results published in scientific literature,” said Chris Tanner, principal scientist of aquatic pollution management at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Hamilton, New Zealand). “But over the last 10 years, we have seen a rapid expansion in the development of various experimental and commercial versions, including studies of their treatment potential.”

Floating Treatment Wetlands are a proven cost-effective alternative to traditional wastewater treatment systems. They are designed to meet the water treatment needs of communities and businesses, while also delivering a solution that provides value for money spent.

Benefits of Floating Treatment Wetlands:

  • Cost Savings
  • Proven Performance
  • Minimal Environmental Impact• Flexibility
  • Zero Land Use
  • Tolerate Fluctuating Water Levels



Photography provided by Water Clean Technologies.

Our Love for Water Inspires Us to Protect It

Martin Ecosystems Installation

Martin Ecosystems began in 2008, and has been family-owned and operated ever since.

Our owner, Ted Martin, grew up in a small fishing village and his love for water began at a young age. Ted and his four children keep the Martin Ecosystems wheels spinning, and they love what they do.

Martin Ecosystems Leadership Team

Martin Ecosystems Leadership Team

The Louisiana coast has been the backdrop for countless Martin family celebrations. It is where we work; it is where we play; it is our home.

The environmental challenges Louisiana faces are worldwide (i.e. marsh erosion, impaired waterbodies, threatened habitats). We are fully dedicated to finding a common link between industry and nature, while solving the most complex environmental challenges with matchless natural solutions.

Our Environmental Commitment Involves Environmental Technology

We are an environmental technology company that manufactures and supplies Floating Treatment Wetlands, Floating Breakwaters, and a bank stabilization solution-EcoShield™.

Our products provide cost-effective solutions for a variety of environmental challenges our world faces today including storm water and wastewater treatment, shoreline protection, and habitat restoration.

Based out of Louisiana, we first developed solutions for the coastal restoration and protection challenges affecting our home state, but today we serve customers in 15 states and several foreign markets.

Our innovative combination of engineering and ecology improves water quality, establishes sustainable habitats and creates resilient shorelines.

We use recycled products with minimal footprints to improve a variety of water environments. We believe it is our responsibility to be good stewards of the earth’s resources.

  • We are RECYCLING by using a matrix material made of 100% recycled Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic soda and water bottles to manufacture all our products.
  • We are REDUCING the amount of plastic from entering the environment and going into landfills.
  • We are REUSING post-consumer waste.

At Martin Ecosystems, our commitment to improving and protecting the environment is strong.

Interested in learning more about our company, product lines and services? Give us a call at (225) 292-6750!

Improving our Environment One Product at a Time: BioHaven® Floating Islands

After installation, our BioHaven® Floating Islands immediately begin working to simulate nature and provide a habitat.

But, with our environmental technology, there is more than what meets the eye. While our BioHaven® Floating Islands are beautiful to look at, it’s what’s happening beneath the surface that sets us apart.

These Floating Islands are intentionally manufactured to be eco-friendly and they comprise four components:

  1. Matrix
  2. Foam for Buoyancy
  3. Vegetation
  4. Planting Medium

These four elements combine to create a dynamic and intricate process.

As the aquatic vegetation grows hydroponically, plant roots permeate the matrix area and beyond, growing into the water column. Through a process called Phytoremediation, the rooted plants eliminate and consume unwanted nutrients from the water as a food source.

The surface area of the Floating Islands is ideal for Biofilm growth, which is a sticky mixture of bacteria, fungus and algae). Within the biofilm, microbes break down harmful water pollutants such as nitrates and phosphorous, through a process called Bioremediation.

Why Choose BioHaven® Floating Islands?

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Vegetation grows much faster with this environmental technology because the trapped nutrients act as a fertilizer for the aquatic plants and biofilm.

The BioHaven® Floating Islands are excellent for treating nutrient-loaded waters due to the purpose of their design: to filter sediment, pollutants, nutrients and organics. They also provide a perfect surface area for natural, biochemical processes to occur.

At Martin Ecosystems, we use science, patented technology and nature to improve the environment.

If you’re looking to improve your water quality, reduce erosion, create a new habitat or restore a lost one, give us a call at 225-292-6750.

Martin Ecosystems: Who We Are

Shorelines. River banks. Marsh. Wetlands. Waterscapes. Ponds. Lakes. Vegetation.

These aspects of nature are usually noticed, but not often given deeper thought. Perhaps you see and appreciate waterscapes, but don’t find yourself wondering how they were created, how they are maintained, or what exactly is going on below the surface.

This is where we come in.

In 2008, Ted Martin founded Martin Ecosystems, LLC, and it has been family-owned and operated ever since.

Ted was raised in a small fishing village surrounded by water, so this love for water began at a young age. His love and appreciation quickly grew into a passion to protect and preserve.

As a team and family, we share his passion as well. We have a strong commitment to improve and protect the environment we live in.

Here are just a few of the many environmental challenges that exist today:

  • Poor water quality
  • Coastal land loss
  • Marsh erosion
  • Threatened habitats
  • Consumer pollution
  • Impaired water bodies

At Martin Ecosystems, our mission is to provide environmental solutions by manufacturing innovative technologies that reduce erosion, improve water quality and beautify waterscapes.

Our family has experienced coastal land loss for decades, so we recognize the problem and have spent nearly 10 years creating a way to be a part of the solution.

We are an environmental technology company that manufactures products that provide cost-effective solutions for a variety of environmental challenges including: Stormwater and Waste Water Treatment, Shoreline Protection, and Habitat Restoration.

We currently manufacture:

In the engineering of our products, we believe it is our responsibility to be good stewards of the Earth’s resources – this is what makes us different from other companies.

By using a matrix material made of 100% recycled Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic soda and water bottles to manufacture our products, we are:

  1. Reducing the amount of plastic from entering landfills
  2. Reusing post-consumer waste

Please contact us to learn more about our company, product lines and services. We would love to hear from you!

Meet the Baton Rouge Family Firm Whose Pitch Brought Home $15K from New Orleans Entrepreneurship Week

Back in 2008, Nicole Waguespack’s family founded Martin Ecosystems, a coastal restoration and protection company based in Baton Rouge. Waguespack, who worked in medical sales at the time, decided to pivot her career toward the family business, which gave her more free time and allowed her to embrace her passion of life in the marsh.

“Being in the marsh will never feel like work to me,” she tells Business Report in the latest Executive Spotlight feature from the new issue. “It is a place of relaxation and peace and a place to simply ‘be’ without distraction.”

As Louisiana’s coastline continues to erode—it’s disappearing at a rate of 16.57 square miles per year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey—Martin Ecosystems’ work is never ending.

“As a small business with six employees, we all wear multiple hats,” she says. “In the last couple of months, I’ve worked on filing a patent for a new product, written a grant application, and met with the Department of Commerce representatives in New Orleans on international exporting, all of which have been new for me.” Read the full executive spotlight Q&A. 


The Kingsford® charcoal facility in Belle, Missouri, has planted an island.

belle_pond_floating-island-800x534The island, a floating wetland of organic and manmade materials, helps filter water in the plant’s recycling ponds. It’s one of the novel ways we at the Belle plant are working to reduce our environmental impact and be a good neighbor to the surrounding community.

After all, the Kingsford facility in Belle is located in rural Missouri, adjacent to farms and small towns that depend on good water quality.

Tapping the power of Mother Nature

Alert to our responsibility to Belle and surrounding communities, we decided last year to try out a new approach to filtering water in our treatment pond.

BioHaven® Floating Islands mimic natural wetlands to improve water quality without mechanical systems or chemical treatment. Rather, the plastic islands (made from BPA-free recycled plastic bottles) are planted with native vegetation. The roots of these plants extend below the island, naturally filtering nutrients and organic solids from the water.

Floating islands help to reduce total nitrogen, total suspended solids, dissolved organic carbon, certain metals and algae in the pond. Each one is roughly five feet by eight feet, and is connected to a web of other islands across the pond.

Taken together, they can also create important wetland habitat for frogs, turtles and birds. The islands help to improve the ecosystem both above and below the water line.

Improving water quality

The floating wetland island have been so effective in removing total suspended solids from the water, the Belle facility plans to install a second set of islands next spring in a separate settling pond.

Since they were planted last spring, the first set of islands has reduced total suspended solids by over 50 percent. We expect similar results with the second installation.

This natural method of treating water has the potential of becoming a best practice we can apply at other Clorox facilities.


World’s Largest Residential Floating Wetlands installed in Queensland

Fellow Floating Island Licensee, Spel Enviornmental/Water Clean installs World’s Largest Residential Floating Wetlands in Queensland, New Zealand. parklakes-2-floating-wetland-completedThe new floating treatment wetlands at Parklakes II on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast have completed installation. The 230 “living” pontoons, which will form 2 islands, will treat stormwater from 436 residential lots, a school, a retirement village and 5 hectare of lake system.

The roots of the reeds, planted on each pontoon, will draw sediment and nutrients from the water. SPEL floating wetlands has consistently achieved all the necessary bacteria counts and oxygen levels in independent scientific trials and over numerous installation sites. Great video showing the installation!

EcoShield Project Showcased in Land and Water Magazine

Plaquemines Parish hired Manchac Consulting Group to design a solution which included artificial oyster reef breakwater and the construction of 5200 feet of earthen berm on both the north and south sides of the marina entrance in front of the levee. Martin Ecosystems installed 4600 feet of EcoShield to protect the newly constructed earthen berm.

All evidence shows that the vegetated mat system is working. It is protecting the earthen berm from erosive waves by reducing wave heights while vegetation continues to spread. This is despite the early challenges of poor soil quality. Full article can be read in Land & Water Magazine.

Buras Aerial 42516 PJ 300dpi

Shoreline Stabilization Project a Great Example of Innovative Ideas

IMG_4970“There is no one single solution to addressing the problems we have. This project is a prime example of what can happen when innovative ideas are put into practice.”, said Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Chairman Chip Kline.

The America’s WETLAND Foundation (AWF) has brought together public and private partners to create the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) Shoreline Stabilization and Restoration Project in Lafourche Parish, LA. Using an innovative green product developed by Baton Rouge based Martin Ecosystems,  America’s WETLAND Foundation will protect 1 mile of the GIWW  in Phase I of the project, where the embankment has been eroded and tidal surges threaten fragile freshwater marshes with saltwater intrusion. The completed project will involve a total of 4 miles of protection. (Phase 2 will begin in 2016) “We are proud to tackle an important impediment to coastal restoration-shoreline creep along the GIWW,” Sidney Coffee, senior advisor of the America’s WETLAND Foundation, said. “This canal has become a virtual line of demarcation between freshwater marshes and saltwater intrusion. By embedding native vegetation for protection of the levee in recycled permeable PET plastics at a fraction the time and costs of other methods, this could be a game changer and could be replicated all along the waterway.”

The America’s WETLAND Foundation has brought together public and private partners with a variety of interest in coastal restoration efforts including Ducks Unlimited, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the State of Louisiana, and private landowners. Private landowners are always looking for cost effective solutions to protect their land from erosion. “It is our hope that this project can be replicated all along the canal through Louisiana and Texas. It is far more affordable and increases the interest of landowners to get involved.” Ted Falgout, a private landowner partner on the project said.

The innovative technology utilized is recycled plastic material called Vegetated EcoShield™ manufactured by Martin Ecosystems. “EcoShield is a matrix material manufactured using recycled PET plastic drinking bottles. By providing a protective medium for vegetation to establish, grow and spread, it enhances the natural processes of the system by creating a vegetative shoreline and important coastal habitats,” Ted Martin, owner of Martin Ecosystems, said.

Phase 1 will be completed in January 2016 with the initial funding provided by AWF, Ducks Unlimited, CITGO, Shell ConocoPhillips, Chevron and Community Coffee. Additionally, the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) recently awarded $250,000.00 to the Ducks Unlimited/AWF partnership for the project’s next phase. It is anticipated that Phase II will install and additional 3 miles of EcoShield.