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Old Trail School, Bath, OH

Old Trail School is an independent school nestled along the boundaries of Northern Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park. When the school’s failing 40-year-old treatment system needed replacement, the administration recognized it as a teaching opportunity, as well as a way to put into practice their sustainability lessons. A Living Machine® wastewater treatment system provided Old Trail with the perfect solution.


The Hybrid Wetland Living Machine® combines three types of wetlands to create a system that is perfectly suited to the school’s treatment needs. After initial treatment in the underground primary tank, the wastewater enters a Horizontal Subsurface Flow Wetland to begin advanced biological treatment. The water then passes through a Tidal Flow Wetland, housed inside a greenhouse, where the remaining nutrients and solids are removed. Final polishing occurs in an outdoor Vertical Flow Wetland, where the water is disinfected, using ultraviolet light.


  • A portion of the system is installed inside a greenhouse, providing a year-round educational opportunity for the students as part of their Global Sustainability program.
  • With a small demonstration pond and tidal wetland column actively treating wastewater before their eyes, the students have a “Living Classroom”, where they can see and study the ecological processes up close.
  • The water meets the highest standards for surface discharge and can be safely released into a tributary of the Cuyahoga River.