Groundwater capture using hybrid poplar trees: Evaluation of a system in Ogden, Utah

A. Ferro, J. Chard, R. Kjelgren, B. Chard, D. Turner, T. Montague

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27 Scopus citations


A phytoremediation system was installed in 1996 in Ogden, Utah, with the objective of controlling groundwater containing petroleum hydrocarbons. Hybrid poplar trees were deeply and densely planted in rows oriented perpendicular to the direction of groundwater flow, and the stand was never irrigated. Piezometers were installed to measure water table elevation and contaminant levels upgradient, within, and down-gradient of the trees. In 1998, an analysis of the root structure of a representative tree indicated that roots had extended down to the saturated zone, approximately 6 ft below ground surface. The rate of water use by the stand during 1998 was estimated from reference evapotranspiration (ETo), leaf area, and a water use multiplication factor (θ) specific to poplar trees. Sap velocity data were collected to measure actual water use by the stand in late summer of 1998. Estimated and measured values compared favorably, with measured values averaging 2.8 gallons day-1 tree-1 (1.7 mm day-1 tree-1). Water use by the stand in 1999 averaged an estimated 445 gallons day-1 (6.9 mm day-1 for the stand). Although the trees transpired a volume of water equivalent to a 10-ft thickness of the saturated zone, water table elevation data collected in 1999 did not indicate a depression in the water table.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-104
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Phytoremediation
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001


  • Capture zone
  • Root distribution
  • Sap flow
  • Transpiration
  • Water use


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