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Stephanie Richards
Bradford Woods

Dara Eckart
School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation

Tracy James
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bradford Woods' $1.2 million wetlands: Functional, sustainable, educational

"Riley Kids," environmental education students, corporate clients to benefit from state-of-the-art system

AUG. 22, 2007

Editors: Officials from Indiana University and Riley Hospital for Children will speak about the new constructed wetlands during a 3:30 p.m. dedication ceremony on Aug. 23 at Bradford Woods, located off of state Route 67 north of Martinsville. Tours of the constructed wetlands will take place after the ceremony, which will include comments from former Indiana University president John Ryan; University Chancellor Kenneth Gros Louis; Robert Goodman, new dean of the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation; Lynn Jamieson, chair of the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies; and C. Perry Griffith Jr., chair of the Riley Children's Foundation Board of Governors. For more information, contact Stephanie Richards, 765-342-2915 and

Bradford Woods Wetlands

Bradford Woods Wetlands

Print-Quality Photo

MARTINSVILLE, Ind -- When "Riley Kids," fifth graders from Indianapolis, Bloomington and Martinsville area schools, and others visit Indiana University's Bradford Woods this year, they will be among the first to experience the outdoor center's new constructed wetlands.

While the wetlands will certainly enrich the educational experience for area students, it was built primarily as a practical solution to the center's aging wastewater treatment facility.

"Bradford Woods, from its humble beginnings in the 1950's has, for sometime, had a water treatment system that was in dire need of replacement," said Bradford Woods Director John E. Koenig. "Not only did the constructed wetlands prove to be the most cost-effective solution for our wastewater treatment needs, but this choice also reflected our organization's commitment to sustainable business practices and will allow us to offer even better educational and informative programs to the children and adults that participate in our many internationally respected programs and services."

A 3:30 p.m. dedication ceremony will be held on Aug. 23 at Bradford Woods. Speakers include Koenig, former Indiana University President John Ryan; University Chancellor Kenneth Gros Louis; Robert Goodman, new dean of the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation; Lynn Jamieson, chair of the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies; and C. Perry Griffith Jr., chair of the Riley Children's Foundation Board of Governors. A tour of the wetlands will begin at the conclusion of their remarks.

The $1.2 million state-of-the-art wetlands is the result of a partnership involving Riley Children's Foundation, Indiana University and a private donor.

"As a result of the partnership, the constructed wetlands will provide students and clients of Bradford Woods an opportunity to study the importance and value of environmental stewardship, the characteristics of a prairie ecosystem, the benefits of a wetland and healthy watershed, and other valuable and important lessons," said Lynn M. Jamieson, chair of the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies, which is in IU Bloomington's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.

Bradford Woods and Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis have worked together for 50 years to provide summer camps for children with disabilities and make available the educational resources of HPER's highly regarded therapeutic recreation program. Bradford Woods' offerings include environmental education programs for area elementary schools. Corporate and business training, leadership and team-building retreats, environmental education programs, weddings and family reunions are just some of the events occuring regularly at the facility.

C. Perry Griffith Jr., chair of the Riley Children's Foundation Board of Governors, said the foundation is "extremely pleased" to have been a partner with Bradford Woods and Indiana University in the development and implementation of this "ecologically advanced" project.

"This project will not only prove to be of great benefit to campers and staff, but it also will serve untold thousands of guests and participants who visit the center in years to come," Griffith said.


The use of a constructed wetlands is an increasingly popular, chemical-free approach to water treatment that mimics the natural cleansing abilities of a wetland. Wastewater is first treated in three 15,000-gallon septic tanks. Then, the wastewater is pumped into the constructed wetlands where bacteria in the plant roots break down organic matter from the wastewater into usable forms of nutrients (i.e. nitrogen, phosphorus and calcium), which in turn support plant growth. The water is then stored in a pump tank and is either circulated back through the wetland cells for additional treatment or gradually dosed into the mound cells. In the mound system, the last remaining pollutants are removed as the water percolates down through a series of pipes, sand and gravel. The clean water flows out of the mound and back into Bradford Woods' groundwater.

While the constructed wetlands are a cost-effective solution to wastewater treatment, they also are considered an environmentally sustainable solution for numerous reasons:

  • Improved efficiency. The constructed wetlands require less energy, land area, and maintenance and operating costs than traditional water treatment systems.
  • Natural and effective wastewater treatment. The constructed wetlands produce perfectly safe water that flows back into groundwater. At the same time, the treatment facility is more aesthetically pleasing than traditional treatment facilities. The water is treated without the use of chemicals, thus minimizing the center's impact on the physical environment.
  • Habitat creation for native plants and wildlife. Wetland plants thrive off of the nutrients from the wastewater. These plants, in turn, provide habitat for insects, birds and butterflies.
  • Preservation of biodiversity. Native wildflower plant communities are becoming less and less common as open land is developed. The deep-rooted prairie plants on the mounds absorb pollutants from wastewater and help stabilize soil on the mounds. These native wildflowers also attract bees, butterflies, moths and beetles during the spring and fall. Leaves and stems provide a food source for developing larvae of many insects, which in turn become food for birds, bats, toads, spiders and fireflies.

Because of the cost-effectiveness and environmental sustainability of this water treatment option, thousands of constructed wetlands are in operation throughout the United States and Europe, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The $1.2 million project was made possible through the efforts of Riley Children's Foundation; the estate of Charles and Ruth Buskirk; The Office of the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Indiana University; HPER and its Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies and National Center on Accessibility; the Office of the University Architects; Reed & Sons Construction of Bloomington; The American Structure Point, Inc.; Soil Works, LLC; Stabilizer Solutions; Polypavement; and Klingstone, Inc.

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