October 15, 2010 - Bend Bulletin - New wastewater plant could include wetland

Oct 22, 2010

October 15, 2010 - Bend Bulletin - New wastewater plant could include wetland

New wastewater plant could include wetland

The proposed treatment facility would cost about $12M and serve 36,000

By Lauren Dake / The Bulletin

Published: October 15. 2010 4:00AM PST

When Prineville’s new wastewater treatment plant is complete, City Engineer Eric Klann believes it will not only treat the city’s waste but also help attract new businesses to the area and serve as a recreational destination for people from around the region.

About five years ago, when Crook County was the fastest-growing county in the state, Prineville officials started making plans for a mechanical treatment and disposal plant that would cost about $57.4 million.

It would treat waste using a chemical process and require construction of a plant. But once the economy slowed, officials had a moment to take a step back and rethink how they would serve their population in the next 30 years. Their idea: create a wetland.

Klann, who was hired post-boom, started looking for alternatives. He’s hoping the wetland will cost citizens less money, help put cold water back into the Crooked River during the summer months — and treat the city’s sewer.

The Prineville City Council will discuss the treatment plant at its Oct. 26 meeting. The city owns 560 acres northwest of the city and hopes to turn 280 of those into the wetland. The city could use its existing lagoons, and the wetlands would further treat the matter. It’s believed the project would have enough capacity to serve about 36,000 people, or serve the city for 30 more years. It would cost an estimated $12.4 million and would be funded through system development charges and grants.

Klann said he’s hoping the city will break ground by 2012.

“The good thing is, we’re not under the gun. We have more time if we need it,” he said.
The wetland project also would lower the city’s system development charges, fees that developers pay for new construction.

Currently, sewer SDCs cost a developer about $7,457 per single dwelling. When the wastewater treatment plant is built and operational, it would lower the cost of SDCs to about $4,000. City officials are hoping the move will help entice developers to the area.
“It makes us competitive with our neighbors at that rate,” Klann said.

Now, the city’s wastewater is treated in two lagoons and used to irrigate the city’s golf course and city-owned pastures in the summer. The hard part with the wastewater is finding enough places to dispose of it. With the wetland, the water would travel through the existing lagoons, where it’s treated, and then hit the wetlands. From there, about 2 million gallons a day of cold water would seep into the Crooked River, which officials believe will help the steelhead.

Klann said he got the idea from the city of La Grande’s Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area. Several Prineville city councilors visited La Grande’s wetland areas and were impressed, according to Councilor Betty Roppe.

La Grande Public Works Director Norm Paullus said in an earlier interview that La Grande’s 720-acre wetland project has garnered awards and drawn visitors from as far away as Saudi Arabia.

Lauren Dake can be reached at 541-419-8074 or at ldake@bendbulletin.com.

Published Daily in Bend Oregon by Western Communications, Inc. © 2010

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