The Town of Lakeview's Wastewater Treatment Facility, designed by Anderson Engineering & Surveying, Inc., has won an award from the American Consulting Engineers Council (ACEC). The project was recognized for its innovative combination of polishing wetland storage and irrigation, coupled with a unique collaboration of the Town, the local school district and the engineers, which created a project that provides tangible benefits to the whole community.
Lakeview is a town of 3,000 in the arid high desert of southeastern Oregon. The town has suffered from the decline of its timber industry. Agriculture is now the area's mainstay. Lakeview's existing treatment facility, constructed in 1959, was not able to meet current discharge requirements. The challenge for Anderson's team, which included Woodward-Clyde Consultants (now URS Corporation) for permit and wetlands assistance, was to design a treatment system that was affordable, could expand and fit well into the community.
The new treatment system utilizes a practical, cost-effective design. Fourteen acres of created wetlands polish the effluent after primary treatment in the old lagoons. The effluent then passes through a chlorination chamber and into a new 35-acre irrigation/storage pond. During wet weather, excess effluent flows from the pond through a five-acre wetland prior to discharge into a stream.
Wetlands are now often used for secondary treatment of effluent. However, this project's use of two sets of wetlands, one for 'polishing' the flow and the other for final treatment, is unique. In addition, through careful analysis of soil conditions, the project team determined that the wetlands did not require artificial linings to prevent excessive leakage, resulting in savings of half a million dollars.
The technical aspects are only part of why this project was recognized by ACEC. According to Darryl Anderson, who led the design team, "We are a hometown firm. We did not want to just design this project. Because this is our community, too, we wanted to make sure that it made a real contribution as well as being affordable and attractive."
The School District's Agricultural farm had lain fallow for several years. Sensing an opportunity, Anderson forged an alliance between themselves, Town staff and the Lakeview High School chapter of the Future Farmers of America to explore how the treated effluent from the plant could be used for irrigation on the farm.
As a first step, the students collaborated with the Town of Lakeview employees, the design team and soil/crop specialists to design the irrigation and crop rotation systems. According to Judy Graham, School District No. 7 Superintendent, "We all formed a unique partnership while working on the wastewater project. Working closely together developing the irrigation system for crop rotation was and continues to be a real life learning experience."
The farm is now productive, due to the free treated water for irrigation as well as the renewed enthusiasm of the school and its students. The students now manage all crop harvesting and marketing as well as soil nutrient and irrigation rate monitoring. All of the farm's profits are returned to the school district. Using the farm to recycle the treated effluent also saved the Town from having to purchase additional land for the treatment plant's expansion. The new trail winding through the created wetlands that links to the town's recreational trail system is an added benefit.
Orval Layton, former Mayor of the Town of Lakeview, summed up the benefits of the town's new wastewater treatment system by saying, "Anderson Engineering & Surveying, Inc. designed and coordinated for us a practical wastewater treatment system that utilizes natural treatment systems combined with agricultural use. Creating the partnership with our school was an added bonus."