Reedbed Wastewater Treatment


Typical Site Plan

Typical Construction

Typical Site Section

Notes for Planners

(5.9Mb pdf)

Agricultural Reedbeds

(590kb pdf)


(2.4Mb pdf)

Natural Technology Systems

I set up Natural Technology Systems primarily as a design practice specialising in reedbed wastewater treatment systems. Over the course of 5 years, this grew to employing 2 further staff and being involved in dozens of sustainable projects as the Irish economy experienced a major boom.

I became involved in reedbed design through necessity. Planning Approval for the EcoHouse initially appeared impossible, because the site was on badly-drained land with slow percolation and a high water table - a conventional septic tank system and leachfield were not appropriate. Having heard of reedbed systems whilst on a course at CAT, Machynlleth, I researched the subject in sufficient depth to eventually persuade the local Planning Department that a reedbed system would clean the wastewater from the development to a standard whereby it could safely be discharged to ground without any pollution risk.

Having pioneered gravel-based reedbeds in Ireland, using the European Guidelines as both a design model and as planning precedence elsewhere in the EU, I became something of an expert in domestic wastewater treatment systems - to the extent that the leading expert at CAT, who literally wrote the book on larger, community-scale reedbeds, came to me at one point for advice on domestic-scale treatment.

In addition to many single domestic treatment systems, NTS grew to be involved in commercial, agricultural and municipal projects, including dairy farms, a visitor centre, a council refuse compaction plant, and various housing developments of up to 44 properties...

The links above show the type of work that the practice produced, ranging from site surveys and mapping to planning and sustainability consultancy work. I developed a software calculation process, using Excel : from simple inputs on occupancy and ground condition tests, this calculated the sizing of the various beds required, along with materials quantities, to produce effluent of whatever standard was required for a particular set of circumstances.