Bequeathed to Indiana University in 1938, Bradford Woods has 2,500 acres of preserved natural area, the largest holding outside the state and national park systems. Its grounds have numerous accommodations ranging from tents and cabins to a restored 1912 manor house. It also serves as home to the American Camping Association and Camp Riley, sponsored by the Riley Children’s Foundation, which is internationally recognized for its work with the disabled. It also hosts environmentally-focused teaching, research, and service programs.
Bradford Wood’s aging wastewater collection system and treatment plant had long been overdue for replacement. In 2005, Center hired Lochmueller Group (Lochgroup) to design a wetlands-based natural treatment system that would honor the center’s focus on environmental stewardship.
Lochgroup designed a system where wastewater is first pretreated in three 15,000-gallon septic tanks, and then discharged into the constructed wetlands through a centralized line. Effluent then moves vertically through a gravel and sand medium on which wetland plants are rooted. Beneficial bacteria in the gravel and plant roots break down organic matter into usable forms of nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous, and calcium that support plant growth. The wastewater is then stored in a pump tank and either circulated back through the wetland cells for additional treatment or gradually dosed into a mound system. In the mound system, the last remaining pollutants are removed as the water percolated down through a series of pipes, sand, and gravel. Finally, the clean water flowed out of the mound and backed into the groundwater.
As a result the constructed wetland not only provided Bradford Woods with a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional wastewater treatment, but the University immediately recognized its benefit as a valuable teaching and research tool. As a result, visitors to Bradford Woods are now provided with a guide to the wetlands, including the wide variety of plant species used. In addition, the Center uses the wetlands for research opportunities including studies of prairie ecosystems and constructed wetland operations.
“Not only did the constructed wetlands prove to be the most cost-effective solution for our wastewater treatment needs, but the choice also reflected our organization’s commitment to sustainable business practices and will allow us to offer better educational and informative programs to the children and adults that participate in our many internationally respected programs.” —Dr. John E. Koenig, Bradford Woods Executive Director