Hermiston, Ore. – The City of Hermiston and the West Extension Irrigation District (WEID) are being honored by the Oregon Water Resources Department with the Tyler Hansell Agricultural Efficiency Award for their cooperative effort which now treats the community’s sewage to a Class-A water standard and is available to irrigate local farms.
Hermiston sewer rate payers footed the bill to fund a $23 million upgrade to the community’s treatment system, which became fully operational in the Fall of 2014. With nearly three years-worth of data available from transforming municipal sewage to Class A water, the increase in discharge quality is crystal clear.
Total Suspended Solids (TSS) in the City’s discharge averaged 14 Parts Per Million (PPM) in the year prior to the new system operating. Since that time, TSS levels are down to just 1.0 PPM. Ammonia levels have also plummeted from 16.1 PPM to less than 1.0 PPM, and Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) has fallen to 1.0 PPM, from an average of 18.0 in 2014.
“The goal of this Class A recycled water that we’re discharging now is to be virtually indistinguishable from drinking water,” said William Schmittle, Recycled Water Plant Superintendent.
Although the cost of the plant upgrade is being paid back by Hermiston sewer customers, the community still enjoys very low rates compared to other cities in the Northwest. An independent analysis conducted by Raftelis Financial Consultants, Inc., released in 2016, surveyed the water and sewer rates of the 51 largest cities in Oregon, and the 70 largest cities in Washington. Hermiston’s current sewer rates rank as the 4th lowest in Oregon, and would rank as the 6th lowest compared to Washington cities. A link to the Raftelis survey is available at http://www.raftelis.com/news/2016-waor-survey-now-available/ (external link)