Arts and Entertainment

Wetlands are a natural solution to our ‘water blues’

"Water Blues, Green Solutions" is an interactive film project telling the stories of communities creating green solutions for our water blues –- flooding, pollution and scarcity. Credit: Frank ChristopherAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Standing in a red raincoat and boots, Robert Brooks is surrounded by about a foot of water and plants as high as his shoulders. Brooks is a professor of geography and ecology, and he discussed the research his team conducts on Pennsylvania’s wetlands in this video as he treks through the water, analyzing each and every plant. He said wetlands provide a number of free ecosystem services.

This is the third in a series of four video briefs that feature Penn State’s involvement in green infrastructure and sustainability. These videos are part of Penn State Public Media’s “Water Blues, Green Solutions,” an interactive documentary about water issues across the country. The documentary airs at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13, on WPSU-TV. Credit: Penn State Public Media

“Wetlands can hold that water, absorb it in some cases and release it slowly back into the stream,” Brooks said in the video. “There are nutrients and sediments carried in runoff from the landscape, and wetlands can use those nutrients and therefore it helps to help clean the water.”

Man-made wetlands can be used as mitigation sites, allowing cities to conserve and treat water. These man-made wetlands can be placed around cities that suffer from drought, flooding or pollution and serve as green solutions.

“One of the biggest impacts of this research is the idea of pairing a mature, natural wetland … with a human-created wetland of equal size,” said Jim Julian, assistant professor of biology. Julian worked with Brooks researching wetlands while he was a graduate student and is also featured in the video.

The wetlands research conducted by Brooks and his team is vital to the conservation of these essential ecosystems. Many of these types of solutions are discussed in Penn State Public Media’s interactive documentary, “Water Blues, Green Solutions.”

"Everything we do, everything we build, impacts our environment and can impact the health of our watersheds,” said Cheraine Stanford, producer of “Water Blues, Green Solutions.” “We have to be mindful of that and make smart decisions."

Learn more about the documentary and Penn State’s involvement in green infrastructure at

“Water Blues, Green Solutions” will air at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, on WPSU-TV.

Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated February 10, 2014