Tree ring analysis was used to document the long-term effects of municipal wastewater on the growth rate of baldcypress (Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich.]. The study site, a swamp in St. Martin Parish, Louisiana, has received municipal wastewater for the last 40 years. Growth chronologies from 1920 to 1992 were developed from cross-dated tree core samples taken from treated and control sites with similar size and age classes. Mean diameter increment (DINC) and mean basal area increment (BAI) chronologies were constructed separately for each stand. These chronologies were then summarized by tree and stand into seven nine-year intervals resulting in three pretreatment intervals from 1926 to 1952 and four treatment intervals from 1953 to 1988. Significant differences in growth response between sites showed a consistent pattern of growth enhancement in the treated site coincident with the onset of effluent discharge. The ratio of treated to control baldcypress growth rates (computed from DINC) averaged 0.74 during the pretreatment period and 1.53 during the treatment period. Over the period of study, control DINC decreased from 77 mm to 29 mm/nine-year interval, while treatment DINC increased slightly from 40 mm to 47 mm/nine-year interval. Control BAI did not increase significantly and averaged 192 cm2/nine-year interval. There was a significant increase in treatment BAI from 129 to 333 cm2/nine-year interval over the period of record. These results clearly demonstrate sustained long-term baldcypress growth enhancement throughout 40 years of municipal effluent discharge.
Additional publication details
Long-term growth enhancement of baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) from municipal wastewater application