JOURNAL ARTICLE : The Brookside Farm Wetland Ecosystem Treatment (WET) System: A Low-Energy Methodology for Sewage Purification, Biomass Production (Yield), Flood Resilience and Biodiversity Enhancement
Wastewater from domestic developments, farms and agro-industrial processing can be sources of pollution in the environment; current wastewater management methods are usually machine-based, and thus energy consuming. When Permaculture Principles are used in the creation of water purification and harvesting systems, there can be multiple environmental and economic benefits. In the context of energy descent, it may be considered desirable to treat wastewater using minimal energy. The constructed wetland design presented here is a low-entropy system in which wastewater is harvested and transformed into lush and productive wetland, eliminating the requirement for non-renewable energy in water purification, and also maximising benefits: biodiversity, flood resilience and yield. In permaculture design, the high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorous compounds in sewage are viewed as valuable nutrients, resources to be harvested by a constructed wetland ecosystem and converted into useful yield. Similarly, rainwater runoff is not viewed as a problem which can cause flooding, but as a potential resource to be harvested to provide a yield. This paper presents a case study, with both water quality and productivity data, from Brookside Farm UK, where the use of Permaculture Design Principles has created a combined wastewater management and purification system, accepting all site water.