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PRESERVING THE FALLINGWATER ENVIRONMENT BY IMPLEMENTING A ZERO-DISCHARGE WASTEWATER RECLAMATION SYSTEM

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Abstract:

Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright 's world-famous “house on the waterfall,” is a masterful integration of building and site. Designed in 1935, it is recognized as an icon of modernism, and was voted the most architecturally significant building of the 20th century by the American Institute of Architects. Fallingwater's celebrated cantilevers soar over a waterfall located on Bear Run, a stream of “exceptional value,” as categorized by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. While the building is noted for exceeding conventional standards for technology and design, its pristine site poses difficult problems for wastewater treatment and disposal.

The current wastewater system at the Fallingwater site includes a combination of holding tanks, composting toilets, and land adsorption systems. These systems do not provide adequate wastewater treatment, frequently produce offensive odors, and are difficult to operate and maintain. The new wastewater system is designed to accommodate increasing visitor demands at Fallingwater and potential future visitor demands at the Bear Run Interpretative Center.

A new wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) will treat and reclaim wastewater generated at the Fallingwater site. The new WWTP will replace the various disposal systems currently in use. The treatment processes selected for Fallingwater include a biological membrane treatment system followed by carbon adsorption and ultraviolet (UV) disinfection. These treatment processes will produce an effluent suitable for public access reuse and recycling. In fact, this project is one of the first public access reuse projects in Pennsylvania.

All of the reclaimed water will be reused onsite for 1) toilet flush waster at the Visitor's Pavilion, Bear Run Barn, Friend House, and Gardener's Cottage; 2) irrigation of a cutting garden located near the Gardener's Cottage, which will also be used as an interpretative site for the reclaimed water system; 3) irrigation of key Rhododendron forests; 4) irrigation of landscaped parking lot medians; and 5) irrigation of a forested site with a subsurface drip irrigation system to provide backup reuse capacity during the winter months and wet periods.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2175/193864702784246955

Publication date: 2002-01-01

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