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Water-purifying pilot project aiming to expand

Facility has been a waystation for street-sweeping debris


NEWS-TIMES PHOTOS: DOUG BURKHARDT - Workers at Fernhill Wetlands are dismantling buildings to make way for a water purifying project. The site is adjacent to a specially designed trail and water garden at the northern edge of the 90-acre wetlands.Clean Water Services (CWS) has alternate plans for a roughly two-acre materials-handling yard adjacent to a specially designed trail and water garden at the north edge of Fernhill Wetlands’ main bird-viewing area.

Workers have been dismantling the storage and processing facility, which has been a waystation for street-sweeping debris and waste material removed from manholes during cleaning and maintenance operations in Forest Grove and other nearby cities.

CWS, which operates a treatment facility adjacent to the wetlands, has been using the area to sort out recyclable debris from landfill-bound material. But CWS officials want to use the newly vacated space to expand a pilot project CWS scientists have been experimenting with in a nearby building, said CWS Public Involvement Coordinator Sheri Wantland.

The project pumps city wastewater into a multi-layered filter-treatment bed that features basalt and river rock covered with bacteria that remove ammonia from the water.

Based on pilot-study results, Regulatory Affairs Intern Matt Horton estimates CWS would need to expand the treatment-bed model to at least a half acre to remove all the ammonia from the wastewater it currently processes.

Ideally, the expanded version of the pilot project will be installed at the new, cleared site this year but the timeline is unclear, Wantland said. The project is currently in the design stage. When finished, it will complement the adjacent wetlands and trails that draw visitors from across the Metro area.

Meanwhile, CWS will transfer its debris-sorting work to a recently purchased site near the Hillsboro airport.

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