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What is a Floating Wetland Island?

A Floating Wetland Island is a man-made ecosystem, that mimics naturally occurring wetlands. Islands are constructed from matrix sheets, derived from non-woven 100% recycled PET plastic. The matrix sheets are then bonded together with marine foam to provide buoyancy.

The design of the system is simple, but the complex biology that develops is quite complicated with aerobic, anaerobic and anoxic nutrient conversion processes to occur.

Floating Islands have three basic components detailed below – Matrix, Foam and PVC.

Matrix - Nonwoven fibers from recycled PET plastic drinking bottles have been tested and found to be non-toxic to fish.

Foam - Coast Guard approved polyurethane, inert marine foam provides adhesion and buoyancy.

PVC Pipe - A frame of PVC pipe is inserted between two layers of matrix and cable is thread through it to connect islands to one another (PVC piping may or may not be present on islands provided by BlueWing).

This system is an attached growth filter media designed to accumulate beneficial microbes to cleanse the water that is in contact with the system.


What does a Floating Wetland Island do?

The purpose of artificial floating wetlands is to mimic nature and thus provide similar water quality improvements and increase habitat diversity. Floating Islands provide a highly efficient, natural way to improve water quality and buffer habitats against surges in nutrients and pollution.

Peat moss is placed on the surface of the Floating Island along with natural vegetation in the planting holes. Plant roots grow through the island into the water column below – adding additional surface area.  As water passes through the network of hanging roots underneath the floating matrix, these roots provide a biological haven for the development of biofilms that aid in various treatment processes.  The biofilms that develop provide the food source that the plants and microbes need for growth, thereby forming the base of the food chain and a real wildlife attractant. The result of the matrix design and biological activity is a "concentrated wetland" effect.

When planted and launched into any water body, Floating Islands provide versatility and sustainability for lasting environmental improvements.


Floating Wetland Island effectiveness

Two independent research studies have been performed and published in scientific journals. 

Montana Board of Research & Commercialization Technology Study

National Institute of Water & Atmospheric (NIWA) Research Study

These studies indicate a high level of nutrient removal capacity and were based on BioHaven matrix material only (no plant material).  They indicate a tremendous potential for nutrient removal in controlled laboratory settings, as well as external lagoon tests and further research and development has led to the following data conclusions.

Floating Island Pollutant Removal Rates


Daily Rates

Annual Rates

Nitrate (NO3?)



Total Nitrogen (TN)



Ammonia (NH3)



Total Phosphorus (TP)



Dissolved Phosphate (PO4?)



Copper (Cu)



Zinc (Zn)



Fine Particulates (FP)




Sizes and Shapes

There are many sizes and shapes of islands available, ranging from 25 square feet up to 400 square feet (and larger if requested), with a standard thickness of 8 inches and buoyancy of 9 pounds per square foot.  They can support small animals and plant life.  However, buoyancy can be adjusted to support different weights if requested.  Each island contains wicking channels (also called planting holes) at 8 inch on center spacing (meaning about 3 per square foot).  These holes are only cut through the top 2 layers of the island and are either 2 ½" or 4" diameter circles.  Islands can even be made to support custom walkways and floating decks if requested.

(See attached pdf for 2010 BlueWing island shapes and pricing list)

We can even make circle shaped islands with a submerged center (Submerged Treatment Ecosystems)

and cross shaped Islands (Leviathan), which are machines that eat dead zones.

Deeper Understanding of Floating Islands.