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Sweet smell of success: New wastewater treatment plant is ahead of schedule

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: CITY OF WILSONVILLE - Construction on Wilsonvilles new wastewater treatment plant should be done by mid-March 2014, according to city officials. City Capital Projects Manager Eric Mende delivered a double dose of good news at the Wilsonville City Council’s Nov. 4 meeting.

Not only is the city’s new wastewater treatment plant four months ahead of schedule and still right on the mark financially, he told councilors, the project was recently named one of the best in Oregon by public works professionals from around the state.

“It’s been a great success,” Mende said.

The project recently was named 2013 Project of the Year by the Oregon chapter of the American Public Works Association, beating out a host of competitors in a category containing projects costing between $25 million and $75 million.

The $35 million wastewater treatment plant was designed and is being built by international engineering firm CH2M Hill. Once complete, the company will go on to operate the plant under contract with the city under a design-build-operate arrangment. It’s the first of its kind in Oregon, said Public Works Director Delora Kerber.

“It’s such a small site for all this construction to occur and we continue to operate the treatment plant while the construction is happening,” Kerber told city councilors prior to presenting Mayor Tim Knapp with the American Public Works Association plaque.

“It’s the first (design-build-operate) platform in the state of Oregon, and we had a lot of focus on minimizing energy use and our carbon footprint through technical innovation,” she said. “We’re very proud of this public-private partnership project.”

The project now is a little more than four months ahead of schedule, Mende said, which is part of the reason it was graced with the APWA award. Completion of the plant is expected by mid-March 2014. Meanwhile, acceptance testing of equipment and different parts of the plant will commence by mid-December.

Long a source of odor complaints, the old wastewater treatment plant was built in the 1970s and outlived its expected service life. The city broke new ground during the first part of 2013 when it did not record a single olfactory objection during the past three months of the year.

Temporary odor control measures brought that result. But the new facility is set to eliminate such complaints permanently.

The upgraded treatment plant and associated facilities will increase its dry weather wastewater flow capacity from 2.25 to 4 million gallons per day, with accommodations for future expansion up to 7 million gallons per day.

“We’re certainly looking forward to completion, and it’s interesting, being the most complex public works project Wilsonville has ever undertaken,” said Knapp. “It’ll be quite a story to tell for a long time, I would think. I would guess we’ll have visitors for many years to come.”




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