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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow LA GRANDE'S SEWAGE TREATMENT EXPANSION

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LA GRANDE'S SEWAGE TREATMENT EXPANSION

WETLAND EXPANSION: A heavy equipment operator works on the wetlands project in Ladd Marsh east of Highway 30. To supply water for the marsh, the City of La Grande is building a 36-inch pipe to carry treated effluent to new ponds that will result in the restoration of about 500 acres of wetlands. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).
WETLAND EXPANSION: A heavy equipment operator works on the wetlands project in Ladd Marsh east of Highway 30. To supply water for the marsh, the City of La Grande is building a 36-inch pipe to carry treated effluent to new ponds that will result in the restoration of about 500 acres of wetlands. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).

By Alice Perry Linker

Observer Staff Writer

The technology of the 21st century is a key to restoring the ancient wetlands environment of Ladd Marsh.

Under a requirement to end the discharge of all treated sewage effluent into the Grande Ronde River, earlier this year the City of La Grande began construction of a sewage disposal project that will eventually result in the restoration of about 500 acres of wetlands.

Dan Chevalier, the citys public works director, said that the cost of piping, pumping and chlorinating the sewer effluent and constructing two marsh ponds is expected to reach at least $12.5 million.

The citys sewage lagoon ponds lie between Interstate 84 and the Union Pacific Railroad near the Union County Airport. To supply water for the marsh, the city is building a 36-inch pipe to carry treated effluent 3 1/2 miles along Highway 203 and under the railroad to shallow ponds in Ladd Marsh near Peach Road in the Hot Lake area. From there, the water will go through chlorine treatment before flowing onto the land on both sides of Peach Road.

Were planting native vegetation in the ponds, Chevalier said. Well hold the water there between three and six days before sending it through chlorination.

The project is ambitious, city officials say, and the cost of restoration is being shared by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, which owns Ladd Marsh; Ducks Unlimited; the Bonneville Power Administration; and the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service. Funds are still being sought to complete the project, said Dave Larson, ODFWs Ladd Marsh manager.

Its definitely a good win-win situation for both of us, he said about the joint city-marsh project.

Chevalier agrees.

Ecologically, this is a great process, he said. We looked at a lot of options, and this looked like the best.

Construction on the project is being done by R&G Construction of Scio and La Grandes Partney Construction, which began building dikes about 10 days ago under contract to Ducks Unlimited. About 15 miles of dikes are planned, with three miles expected to be finished this year.

Ducks Unlimited did the design and engineering, and Partney is doing the construction, Larson said. Were building dikes to protect the adjacent private land and allow us to manage the water at proper levels for wildlife.

ODFW will control the water level in a way that Larson hopes will mimic nature.

We have about 10 different units to be managed with a variety of water depths, he said. Some may dry out for a full year. If you look at nature, one year you have a flood and another year a drought.

When construction of the wetlands is finished, probably in the late summer of 2003, the larger marsh and pond areas may attract birds that dont normally stop at the marsh.

I think well see some species that have flown over us, he said. Maybe snow geese, swans they like large bodies of water.

When completed, the marsh should be attractive to hunters, as well as other visitors.

Were trying to design an auto tour with viewing areas, information kiosks, he said.

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