City celebrates opening of new water treatment plant

The city of Sweet Home held a grand opening, ribbon cutting and open house on Sept. 30 to celebrate the opening of the city’s new water treatment plant.

The plant, located off 47th Avenue and drawing water from Foster Lake, went online on Aug. 13, replacing a 70-year-old plant, located off Ninth Avenue.

“We faced a difficult road to get to this point, which gives me even more pride in this beautiful facility,” Mayor Craig Fentiman told visitors inside the new plant.”

The city’s original plant was built in the 1930s, with its last upgrades in the 1960s, Fentiman said. Several attempts to upgrade the plant since then met with roadblocks.

“The critical event that helped get the ball rolling on this project was when the city received notification in late 1998 that it needed to comply with new requirements for treatment techniques,” Fentiman said. “Experts determined that the best way to meet these demands was with a new water treatment facility at a new location.”

Specifically, the old plant was unable to provide enough chlorine contact time with the drinking water before the water reached the first customer. The new plant incorporates a basin beneath the main building to provide adequate chlorine contact time.

The new plant also includes technology to create chlorine on site for injection into the water.

With the new plant, the city is no longer required to send postcards to residents to inform them that the city’s water does not meet drinking water requirements.

Construction on the new facility began in mid-2008 on a 5-acre parcel donated to the city by Troy Cummins and partners in the Santiam River Development Company.

“This state-of-the-art plant that we are looking at is capable of producing 6 million gallons per day of high-quality potable water,” Fentiman said. “That is about three times the current demand for water in the city.

“To ensure that we don’t run into the same problems we had with this upgrade, we have prepared for the city’s future growth by making this facility easily expandable. With a few minor adjustments and the addition of two filters, this plant will be able to process 10 million gallons of water per day.”

The facility is 17,280 square feet, he said. It contains more than 5,000 feet of water lines, three filters, a computerized control room that runs all aspects of the plant and an observation deck.

It also has an office, conference room and locker room with showers designed to maximize productivity, he said.

The cost was approximately $12.45 million for the facility, funded by low-interest state loans.

“This facility really belongs to the citizens and ratepayers of Sweet Home,” Fentiman said. “We hope you are proud of the plant and all the years of hard work that it took to realize this project.”