Applying Eco-MachineTM Technology to Local Wastewater Treatment Plant

Sarah Hardy


In response to the growing pressure for clean water, Eco-MachinesTM, designed by Dr. John Todd, offer a wastewater treatment alternative to expensive, high-energy, conventional systems. Eco-MachinesTM treat sewage effluent with a series of components containing plants, bacteria, fish, and fungus in symbiotic ecosystems. By utilizing nature’s technology, Eco-MachinesTM make an essential societal function more sustainable and aesthetically pleasing. Eco-MachinesTM are being used for wastewater treatment by corporations such as Coca-Cola® and Tyson® as well as for national and international municipal wastewater. The technology is not yet being utilized in the local wastewater treatment plant. This study seeks to design a wastewater treatment component that incorporates Eco-MachineTM technology into the local Easton Wastewater Treatment Plant (EWTP) to demonstrate the benefits of sustainable systems to the community. Phosphorus removal was tested, as it is often the limiting nutrient in eutrophication. Phosphorus levels are currently not limited by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit at EWTP; however, phosphorus will be included in future permits. The EWTP wastewater tested was taken from the effluent of the secondary clarifier, before the chlorination process, as this is where the final design component will likely be implemented. Baseline tests indicated approximately 3.3 mg/L of total phosphorus in the wastewater. Previous research indicates that water hyacinths, a floating macrophyte species, are effective at removing phosphorus from water. Water hyacinths were batch tested for phosphorus removal. Tests consisted of two 24-hour batch tests using wastewater with a 24-hour tap water starvation period in between to determine how plants respond to varying phosphorus concentrations. Tests were preceded by an establishment period of one week to allow plant and bacterial growth. Water samples were collected throughout the testing period, and total phosphorus was measured. Phosphorus decreased at first but later increased. Future tests will study nitrogen removal, the second most limiting nutrient in eutrophication, and other plant species.


Wastewater treatment; Water hyacinths; Phosphorus

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