Bureau Waardenburg
Varkensmarkt 9
4101 CK Culemborg
the Netherlands
T: +31 (0) 345 512710
email buwa

Natuurlijke waterzuivering
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Natural water treatment

We have undertaken a number of studies into the use of natural organisms for the improvement of water quality. This research has been carried out on behalf of local governments, waterboards and the Dutch Government (Rijkswaterstaat). Through this work we have built up experience and knowledge in the natural water purification process, including nutrient uptake by plants and the decomposition and transformation of pollutants by micro-organisms.

Helophyte filters

Marshland plants (helophytes) have been used in the water treatment process for the past several decades. An initiative by Bureau Waardenburg in the 1980s led to the construction of one of the first helophyte filters in the Netherlands.

Helophytes were initially used for the treatment of waste water and surface runoff, as well as the additional treatment of effluent. Nowadays, both marsh and aquatic plants are widely used in the treatment of surface runoff in both urban and rural areas.

We can advise on the removal of nutrients, organic and inorganic contaminants from water. We design the most appropriate treatment system for each unique situation. We also give consideration to the ecological function and landscaping of the system.


Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) occur in fresh and brackish waters throughout the Netherlands. These mussels feed by filtering suspended matter out of the water column and deposit any remaining matter in the substrate. This process can be used in the treatment of water as algae and micro pollutants are removed from the water.

We conduct regular surveys in number of larger waterbodies on behalf of the Dutch Government (Rijkswaterstaat) in which the filtering capacity is assessed by means of the mussels present. This provides an insight into the impact of the zebra mussels on water quality and the presence of algae.

We have also carried out research on water filtering by mussels in estuaries; also on behalf of the Dutch Government (Rijkswaterstaat). This work aimed to reduce the level of nutrients and fertilisers in large water systems. At the same time shell material was deposited in order to stimulate the colonisation and development of zebra mussels.

Zebra mussels are also used as an indicator of the degree to which pollutants are present in the water. The level of pollutants in the food chain can be estimated from those in the zebra mussels.

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