1. What is a BioHaven® Floating Island?

BioHaven floating islands are cutting-edge, yet proven, green technology, a new variant on constructed wetlands, or treatment wetlands.  BioHaven Floating Islands "bio-mimic" Mother Nature's own natural floating wetlands. 

They are a powerful tool to enhance the health both environmentally and biologically of stormwater or wastewater ponds and lakes in urban areas and the countryside alike. The Floating Concentrated Wetlands (FCWs) replicate natural wetlands in a concentrated way. Plants and naturally occurring bacteria above and below the waterline of the island filter and pull unwanted nutrients and contaminants from the waterway without the aid of added chemicals.

When a BioHaven is launched, a whole diverse eco-system is created which soon attracts life in all its forms, from microbes to nymphs, to butterflies, to fish, birds.... all the way up the food chain.  They can be custom created to virtually any size and shape, the largest of our islands (4,000 m2 – 1 acre) was launched in 2010

Over 5,600 BioHaven islands have been launched in 4 continents. There are 40 different known applications for the floating islands.

2. How does a BioHaven floating concentrated wetland (FCW) improve water quality?

Many bodies of water associated with agriculture or septic systems or storm water management or lawn and garden fertilizers carry an unnaturally high nutrient load causing a wide range of serious water quality problems such as odours or the growth of harmful algae. BioHavens represent a holistic way to “mine” these problem causing nutrients out of your waterway and convert them into a beautiful and wildlife enhancing floating island habitat.

Underneath the plant cover of the islands a non-woven, dense, but porous fibre matrix made from recycled non-toxic, plastic bottles forms the core of the proprietary BioHaven® floating islands. Plants are grown hydroponically through the matrix and soak up the nutrients/contaminants.

The matrix fibers, the plant roots and rhizomes provide the ideal surface area for growing beneficial colonies of vigorous microbes in the form of a sticky biofilm.

In the biofilm a frenzy of microbes create a dynamic process breaking down harmful nutrients and other water-borne pollutants. As well organic solids in the water stick to the biofilm and become the base of the freshwater food web, attracting minnows and fish. These pathways represent a concentrated wetland effect, nature’s way to clean water.

The reduction of harmful nutrients obtained with floating concentrated wetlands technology help suppressing odours and weed and algae growth in ponds and lakes.

3. Which contaminants does a BioHaven remove?

The contaminants that are removed through the biofilm in the Biohaven matrix and on the plant roots and rhizomes are: ammonia, nitrate, phosphorus, TSS (Total Suspended Solids), BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand). Simultaneously the islands improve the DO (Dissolved Oxygen) levels that promotes a healthy aquatic life in the waterbody.

As well heavy metals from mining operations or naphthenic acids from oilsands tailing ponds can be removed with the concentrated floating islands. Early results from a student research project showed that BioHavens reduce levels of estrogen in water.

4. From what material is the BioHaven® Matrix constructed?

The proprietary matrix is made from recycled PET, which do not use BPA in its manufacture, and is not known to leach any other substances into water. It is the plastic used in most drink bottles and is safe around water. In fact, there is scientific evidence that BioHavens are net absorbers of BPA - in other words, they remove it from water.

5. What plants can be grown on a BioHaven® Floating Island?

If the water in your pond is well aerated, almost any plant suitable for your planting zone will grow on a BioHaven. If your water is not well aerated, or if you are not sure, we recommend riparian plants that are naturally adapted to low oxygen conditions. Many nurseries have wetland plants available. A list of sources for wetland plant seeds and wild flower seeds, which we also recommend, is available on request.

Plants used to vegetate floating treatment wetlands are generally low-maintenance perennials, selected from those native to the region in which the island will be launched.  When these islands are being utilized as a habitat for birds, fish or other wildlife, plants which attract the targeted species and meet their environmental needs are also used.  Annual plants, including fruits and vegetables, have been successfully grown on BioHavens.

6. How do you determine the size a Floating Treatment Wetland for a location in a wastewater treatment lagoon or stormwater pond or other contaminated waterway?

The size of an island is determined through modelling based on data from research and case studies conducted over the last 10 years.  The following factors are taken into account:

7. What are the available sizes of the BioHaven® Floating Concentrated Wetlands?

The islands are modular and can be custom created to virtually any size and shape, the largest of our islands, 4,000 m2 (one acre) was launched in 2010.  We do not recommend any size smaller than 2.5 m2 (27 square feet).  

8. Can a Floating Concentrated Wetland be installed in any climatic or geographic region?

Yes, the technology is applicable to any location, including cold northern climates.  The Floating Concentrated Wetland (FCW) at the Sam Livingston Hatchery in Calgary has thrived through five Alberta winters.  A FCW has successfully been tested in the winter in the ocean of the coast of Alaska. The BioHavens are strong enough so they can remain in the waterbody during freeze-up. Other of our floating islands have successfully resisted 11 Montana winters.

9. What is the life expectancy of the BioHaven Floating Concentrated Wetland (FCW) ?

The oldest BioHaven is over 11 years old and is still in excellent shape.  Based on this condition, a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years or more is anticipated.  The FCW matrix is in most cases guaranteed for 10 years. 

10. Where has the Floating Concentrated Wetland (FCW) technology been developed?

The FTW has been developed in Montana based on studies from the Center of Biofilm Engineering at Montana State University.  Floating Island International Inc. has a 300 acre property in Shepherd, MT where in several ponds extensive research in holistic water remediation and concurrent fostering of fish and wildlife is ongoing. 

11. What is the difference between conventional wetlands and Floating Concentrated Wetlands (FCW)?

Floating concentrated wetlands clean water faster than conventional islands because their design create a more concentrated environment.  Our floating treatment wetlands are more scalable, cost-effective and customizable than conventional wetlands, are able to be launched in almost any water depth, adapt to fluctuating water levels and can efficiently operate in virtually any waterway. Each cubic meter of BioHaven floating island contains almost 1,000 m2 of surface area to support beneficial bacteria growth.

12. Has the Floating Concentrated Wetland technology been researched and validated?

The BioHaven FCW technology has been validated through several peer reviewed studies from prestigious institutions specializing in water treatment such as the State University of Montana, Center for Biofilm Engineering, Louisiana State University and New Zealand’s NIWA (New Zealand Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research).

In stormwater ponds, lakes and other waterbodies the FCW is the ideal solution to enhance fish and wildlife habitat.  With the mid to long term health of a waterbody in mind, a FCW system provides the opportunity to steward a waterbody into a ‘transitional waterway”.  This means that a lake could evolve from eutrophic to a much healthier mesotrophic waterway for the benefit of the environment and enjoyment of the population.

In addition to water remediation the FCW are an excellent source of Carbon Capture.  

13. Do BioHaven® floating islands only work in freshwater lakes or ponds?

No. Our floating islands and treatment wetlands can be launched in virtually any waterway, including both freshwater and marine settings. Lakes, streams, rivers and oceans and other bodies of water can benefit from these powerful water quality tools. 

14. What are the main benefits of the BioHaven floating islands?

The main benefits and applications are:

15. What are the other available BioHaven technologies and applications?

Below are examples of existing applications with multiple purposes while simultaneously improving the water quality of the waterbody.

16. How do BioHaven floating streambeds help in the control of disease carrying insects?

Disease control: BioHaven Floating Streambeds are an effective way to control vector insects such as disease-carrying midges and mosquitoes that spread epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD), bluetongue disease and West Nile virus by optimizing the habitat for insect predators such as water beetles and dragon and damsel fly nymphs. Concurrently, the floating streambed mixes, circulates and aerates the targeted waterway.  When exposed to nutrient contaminated water the combination results in massive biotic activity which can produce very large numbers of native predators to mosquito larvae and pupa, such as native fathead and stickleback minnows which subsequently inhibit overgrowth of cyanobacteria.

17. What synergistic technologies are available for an integrated solution to improve the water quality in stormwater ponds?