At a Glance

A barrier island wildlife refuge facility finds a fitting and award winning wastewater treatment and reuse system that meets the highest industry standards.

Project Description

More than 400,000 people walk through the doors of the Herbert H. Bateman Educational and Administrative Center at the Chincoteague Refuge every year. Operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Center embraces green architecture and sustainable design. Geothermal energy heats and cools the buildings and restroom fixtures are low-flow and waterless.

Given the highly sensitive environmental conditions of the Center’s barrier island location, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sought a wastewater treatment system that would not only meet advanced standards, but also fit into the site’s aesthetics and ecology. Biohabitats designed a constructed wetland system to treat and recycle wastewater. The design incorporated wetlands, a pond, a sand filter (with the appearance of a sand dune), and a water reuse system which feeds into the toilets and fire sprinkler network of the Center. Surplus water is used to support native vegetation in a small water course. Native vegetation in the wetlands includes saltmarsh bulrush, sofstem bulrush, broad leaved cattails, salt grass, yellow iris, saltmarsh mallow, arrow arum, smooth cordgrass, and salt meadow hay.

The final product is a beautiful facility that won the Department of the Interior’s 2003 Federal Energy and Water Management Award.



Chesapeake/Delaware Bays

Physiographic Province

Coastal Plain


Chesapeake Bay

Expertise Areas

Infrastructure, Water


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


Chincoteague Island, Virginia, United States