RAF, Reed Beds and Clean Water

A major scheme to take extra water away from runways at the Kinloss Royal Air Force base, next door to The Park, will utilise a reed bed system to clean the water before it is emptied into the sea nearby. As the Findhorn Foundation and community have long been proud of our leading-edge Living Machine natural sewage system which purifies our waste water, people here wondered whether the RAF’s different way of doing things may have resulted from the proximity of our two communities and the cross-fertilisation of ideas.

The answer is yes, although sometimes things take a long time and work out in unexpected ways.

In 1980, Angus Marland, who was living in the community, went to Edinburgh to broaden his horizons. He started working on projects to do with energy conservation, renewables, and organic farming, eventually working with other community members to set up a company that brought Living Machine sewage treatment systems to the UK.

Angus says, “In 1998 I was asked by consultants in Edinburgh about the treatment of surface runoff water at RAF Kinloss, and came up with some ecologically-engineered suggestions. Nothing happened for a long time, I returned to live at The Park in 2001, and then out of the blue in April last year there was a message on the answering machine . . . did we do reed beds, and could we do one in Kinloss? Thinking that it was for a single house, I returned the call and was surprised to hear that it was from RAF Kinloss!”

The company he currently works for, Rockbourne Environmental, won the contract and are now busy building two and a half acres of reed beds and a large lagoon. The outfall pipe from the new water treatment system runs deep under land owned by Findhorn community-based Duneland Ltd, which safeguards the unique natural local environment. Bill Henderson, of Duneland Ltd, has walked the route of the pipe, doing his best to engage the cooperation of elemental beings and nature spirits in the area.

Working together on the reed bed system is a win-win situation, ensuring that untreated water will no longer be emptied into Findhorn Bay, and that the dunes through which the waste water runs will be protected from adverse environmental impact. Work will be completed in time for this winter’s runoff to be treated and discharged into the sea.

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