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New wastewater treatment system offers flexibility to developers.

Real estate developers are no longer limited to building sites within reach of municipal wastewater pipelines, thanks to a leading-edge ecological wastewater treatment technology recently introduced by South Burlington, VT-based company, Living Technologies.

The Living Machine, a combination of ecological and civil engineering, combines sunlight and a managed ecosystem of thousands of organisms to break down wastewater naturally, on-site. The technology has been successfully serving the town of South Burlington, VT, in its municipal wastewater treatment program.

Similar Living Machine installations recycle water back into toilets at the visitor's center at National Audubon's Corkscrew Sanctuary in Southwest Florida, and the Guilford, Vermont, rest stop. A Living Machine that has been engineered to accommodate 7,500 visitors per day is being built to recycle water back into the toilets at the Earth Centre in Doncaster, England; a second phase is being planned to accommodate approximately twice that number; and a new building utilizing the Living Machine to recycle water back into toilets at Oberlin College's Environmental Studies Center is being integrated into an approximately 14,000 square-foot building being designed by William McDonough & Partners. Living machines are also in use nationally and worldwide in some 20 manufacturing settings, cleaning high strength industrial wastewater.

The Living Machine represents a revolutionary breakthrough in the treatment of municipal wastes and has three key applications for real estate developers. First, it allows new sub-divisions to be built where the cost of laying pipelines to municipal wastewater treatment systems would otherwise have been prohibitive. Second, it replaces failed leach fields in similar, existing sub. divisions; and third, it allows developers of large-scale new buildings the option of on-site treatment in situations where the additional wastewater would overwhelm the existing municipal sewer system, and might constitute a critical reason for not proceeding with the development.

A perfect example of the latter is Donald Trump's proposed West Side development, where the huge increase in sewage threatened to overwhelm New York City's municipal wastewater treatment plant in Harlem, and put the project into question.

Living Machines: What They Are and How They Work

In the Living Machine, organisms - including bacteria, micro-organisms, zooplankton, plants, snails and even fish - break down and digest organic pollutants. While the biology is very diverse, it is also self-managing and readily adapts to meet changing treatment needs. Organisms establish themselves at points in the system where they can most efficiently digest the waste. Depending on the climate, Living Machines can be housed in a protective greenhouse, under light shelter, or in the open air.

The systems can be built as modules, allowing for ready expansion as sewage demand increases. Therefore, developers can match their capital investment in sewage treatment with number of homes being built. thus conserving capital.

The South Burlington Living Machine, which was built in 1995, is an excellent example of how well this treatment system functions even at cold temperatures. Treating 80,000 gallons per day (GPD) of municipal sewage generated by approximately 1,600 users, it takes influent COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand) from 479 mg/l down to 30.4, while BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand) is reduced from 241 mg/l to 7.0; TSS (Total Suspended Solids) from 161 mg/l to 3.00; and Ammonia from 14.6 mg/l to 0.25. These water chemistry data were provided by EPA-certified labs.

Recycling Advantage of Living Machine

Treating wastewater on-site using the Living Machine can also be extremely valuable to developers in low water table regions with high irrigation requirements. In states such as Arizona, California, Nevada, and Florida, where treated wastewater is valued for irrigation, the Living Machine treats and recycles wastewater for this purpose, reducing the costs and inconvenience associated with piping it to overloaded municipal centers.

Living Technologies is a pioneering leader in the field of ecological wastewater treatment. It has constructed Living Machines in North and South America, Australia and Europe, for customers such as M & M Mars, the Body Shop, Masterfoods, the State of Vermont and Sonoma Mountain Brewery. They were developed by Dr. John Todd, a biologist with an international reputation for his work. He was awarded the Chico Mendes Memorial Award from the U.S. EPA in 1989, the Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Award from the White House in 1990, the Discover Award for Technological Innovation in 1991, the Chrysler Award for Industrial Design in 1994, and most recently, an Environmental Merit Award from the U.S. EPA in July 1996.

For further information on Living Machines, contact Michael Shaw or Chuck Lacy at Living Technologies, (802) 865-4460.
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Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Oct 22, 1997
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