Vertical flow reedbeds
University of Birmingham / Raymond Priestley Centre
The Raymond Priestley Centre is an outdoor activity centre situated on the shores of Coniston Water in the Lake District National Park. It is owned and operated by the University of Birmingham. The centre provides residential courses throughout the year for Birmingham University staff and students as well as members of other academic institutions, sports clubs and corporate clients.
The relatively remote positioning of the site necessitates an offline, bespoke water management system for the treatment of sewage and grey water generated on site. Once treated, this water has to be discharged into the local environment. The existing wastewater treatment system was established in the early 1970s and comprised a septic tank and a soakaway system.
The centre is popular and increasing numbers of people are attending courses each year, thus there was concern about the existing water treatment system's capacity to maintain adequate treatment. The seasonal variation in residents staying at the centre gives rise to variable wastewater loads passing forward for treatment, therefore a flexible and adaptable treatment solution was required.
ARM Ltd’s solution was to make use of the existing treatment assets and enhance them with a Forced Bed Aerated™ vertical downflow reedbed situated between the septic tank and soakaway.
Following liaison with the Environment Agency some refurbishment of the soakaway was undertaken and a 70m2 aerated reedbed was installed to aesthetically blend into the site without affecting site activities. The aeration provides high level and consistent performance with an element of control of treatment capacity and power consumption.
The aerated reedbed system provides the increased level of treatment capacity required by the site as well as the flexibility and consistency to adapt to the varying loads seen throughout the year.
The use of reedbed technology minimises the requirement for operational maintenance by site staff and is apposite for an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty within the National Park.