Rancho Mirage, CA

The Annenburg Retreat at Sunnylands, is a 50 acre golf course and retreat center used by global leaders in the Coachella Valley. Each year over 75,000 people visit the campus to view its historic grounds and gardens. With an eye toward the sustainable use of water, Sunnylands is expanding its campus and has included an ecological wastewater treatment system to treat domestic sewage so that it can be re-used to offset irrigation demand. 

The Sunnylands Engineered Wetlands will treat 6,000 gallons per day. The system will be housed in a custom-designed enclosure that matches the desert aesthetic of the rest of the campus.  Treated wastewater will be compliant with California's title 22. This system is scheduled to be complete by the fall of 2016. 

Project team: Nu // John Todd Ecological Design // o2 Architecture // MSA Consulting // HGA // Integrated Water Services

Denver, CO

The Denver Water Board is Colorado's biggest utility provider, collecting, treating and distributing drinking water to over 1.3 million customers. The Denver Water Board is currently undergoing a 4-year, $195 million redevelopment of their 35-acre campus. As part of this project the Water Board is interested in showcasing state of the art and sustainable uses of water. 

Nu is working with the Denver Water Board to provide the client with innovative solutions for the onsite treatment of wastewater. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2016 and finish in the summer of 2019.



Project team: Nu // RNL // MKK // Aqua Nova // John Todd Ecological Design

Western Cape, South Africa

Langrug is an informal community of 4,000 with limited access to sanitation. Wastewater originating in the community flows downhill causing erosion and polluting nearby rivers. 

Working with local partners, we have come up with a series of flexible and low-cost methods of filtering, conveying and treating the wastewater generated within the community. These methods focus on converting liquid waste into rich, moisture-retaining soils and establishing street trees and micro gardens through the community. 

This project is part of an initiative led by the Western Cape Government to develop innovative and replicable strategies for dealing with this systemic challenge. One of the main objectives of this project is to produce designs that make use of local materials and skills and that can be implemented and maintained by the community.


Watch Biomimicry South Africa's video on the project.  


Project Team: Biomimicry SA // CORC // ISIDIMA // MALUTI // John Todd Ecological Design

Ojai, CA

The Thacher School is a progressive, outdoor-oriented boarding school with a commitment to sustainability. As part of this commitment the school is working to re-examine its water use and upgrade outdated infrastructure.

As part of these efforts the opportunity arose to replace an outdated and costly package plant with an onsite ecological wastewater treatment system. At the Thacher School an ecological wastewater treatment system will be able to pay for itself through reduced maintenance and sludge-hauling costs.

The Thacher ecological treatment system will serve as a living classroom located at the heart of the campus. The system will also allow Thacher to reduce their non-potable water demand as effluent is reused for toilet flushing and irrigation.  The project is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2016.  

Project Team: Nu // BRDG // Blackbird Architects // Aqua Nova // John Todd Ecological Design

British Virgin Islands

Moskito Island is a 120-acre private island developed by Sir Richard Branson as a model for sustainable luxury tourism. On the dry Islands of the Caribbean freshwater is a precious commodity. The shallow waters surrounding the islands are home to corals and colorful fishes and particularly sensitive to pollution from domestic waste.

The Moskito Island Eco-Machine® is designed to purify domestic sewage so that it can be re-used for landscape irrigation.  Wastewater flows through a series of terraced water gardens and wetlands before passing through a final stage of mechanical filtration and U.V. sterilization. Treated wastewater is stored in an underground cistern where it is mixed with rainwater and pressurized for spray irrigation.



Project team: John Todd Ecological Design // Eco-Solutions // Kao Design

Naples, FL

The National Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is a 13,000 acre wildlife preserve home to North America’s largest stand of old growth bald cypress. In 1994 Dr. John Todd and Living Technologies designed and built an ecological onsite treatment plant to process the wastewater generated by the Center's 100,000 annual visitors. 

Wastewater passes through primary treatment tanks and hydroponic reactors before entering a constructed wetland.  Treated wastewater is re-used for toilet flushing. The system, which is designed to treat up to 6,000 gallons per day, has a compact footprint of 70 X 70 square feet. All plants grown within the system are native wetland species found elsewhere within the sanctuary.

For over two decades the system has provided reliable treatment with a minimum of required maintenance and service. Today Nu is working with the Corkscrew Swamp staff to upgrade and service this landmark ecological system and to ensure that it continues successfully for the next several decades.


New York, NY

Designed and built as a temporary window display for Patagonia's SoHo location, this compact system demonstrated filtration, nutrient cycling and natural succession in a range of model ecosystems. Visitors to the store watched as water recirculated through 8 distinct cells each showcasing a specific community of plants and animals.

The goal of the project was to showcase and illuminate the beauty and treatment function of aquatic ecosystems. 










Project Team: John Todd Ecological Design 

Peoria, IL

In the mid-2000’s the City of Peoria, Illinois, was given a mandate by the US EPA to clean up their Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) discharging into the Illinois River. The EPA’s recommendation was that the city build a twelve-foot-wide pipe to carry their CSO several miles downstream to the wastewater treatment plant at a projected cost of hundreds of millions of dollars to tax payers. As part of an overall effort to revitalize the city with sustainable and forward-thinking infrastructure the City of Peoria decided to take a green approach to their CSO problem.

This approach was to capture and infiltrate stormwater at the source through the use of boulevards, rain gardens, swales, permeable paving, green roofs and other low-impact technologies. This strategy will not only elimate CSO but also dramatically impact the city by increasing green space.

The Nu team, while at John Todd Ecological Design, worked with the City of Peoria on high level master planning to envision how ecological design might be implemented to revitalize the waterfront, protect the river and create new public spaces.




Project Team: John Todd Ecological Design // City of Peoria // AMEC