About 15 people join second meeting on wastewater compliance for most recent quarter

PMG PHOTO: CAROL ROSEN - About 15 people attended a Sept. 4 meeting focused on compliance review of the City of Molalla's wastewater system.

Molalla held its third quarter waste water compliance meeting on Sept.4 at City Hall. As usual it was a standoff between those from Bear Creek Recovery and those from the city.

Once Consultant Holly DeRamus finished going over her report and showing slides, the questions began in earnest.

While some questions were on topic, others seemed to come out of left field with no apparent relation to the report.

DeRamus' report seemed to follow the report held last quarter in response and compliance to the Consent Decree issued to Molalla.

For this second report, her first section explained the items addressed during the quarter, most were finished with a sentence that said "This item is completed."

She included the sections of the consent decree to which each one of the 14 sections complied.

One of them referred to leak tests, another that housekeeping would include the inflow and infiltrations or an I&I plan that is continuing to be monitored.

It also noted that the city made payments for attorney fees to Crag Law Center and for violations during the second quarter of $15,500.

DeRamus noted in her report the city had no violations this quarter.

She also noted that she has been "…collecting data to document the impact that the completed I&I improvements have had on flows. We are expecting to see further gains as the work continues. With less influent flow to treat and less dilution from rain infiltration and [the] removal of biosolids the system will be in continued improvement."

Over the past couple of years, the city has been working to remove biosolids, currently they have removed 40 tons and hope to remove up to 400 tons this year. Last year the city removed 699 tons.


There were several questions about the DEQ and the permits. Someone also asked about permits for the date when the new plant will be finished and if the city had the money to build such a plant. Other questions involved the effluent the city puts into the Molalla River and someone mentioned a friend said the Coleman Ranch smelled during irrigation. Another person wanted to know why the city just can't lower the water levels in the lagoon.

Gerald Fisher, public works director, answered all the questions that were in regards to the compliance decree and some that weren't. He explained that both lagoons require water levels over a certain level, that is over the solids, and that both lagoons meet the permit levels.

He mentioned to the Pioneer that some of the statements made by the Bear Creek Recovery people were attempts to go off topic.

"My response back to her was that we have not violated our permit…the fact that we are in compliance with our permit during the last quarter is satisfactory for the purposes of the meeting."

He also explained that the city hopes to remove more than 400 dry tons of biosolids this year. Fisher also explained that two headworks are modifying the upgrade to remove solids. He also said the city is reviewing daily flows into the plant. As to the question regarding the smell during irrigation, both DeRamus and Fisher noted that the irrigation water doesn't smell.

It's going onto a cattle ranch, where often people can note the smell from the animals' feces. In addition, whether the irrigation water is class A or class C, it has been through the plant and "is nice water," said DeRamus.

Fisher explained the sewer and storm water pipes had bad pipe joints because of the old age of the pipes.

"The storm water pipe was leaking through the joints, into the surrounding trench rock and traveled down to the sewer pipes below it and entered through the old pipe joints. That increased the amount of sewer flow into the plant, especially during the winter months.

Fixing the sewer pipes saves the city money by reducing chemical and electrical costs in treatment and pumping at the treatment plant.

It also lessens exposure to DEQ violations as well as the city's exposure to third party clean water act lawsuits. This results in a lower cost of constructing the new treatment plant because if lower flows are coming into the plant, we don't have to oversize the plant and that reduces the long term costs to Molalla's rate payers," Fisher said in an email.

Carol Rosen
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