Our solution to the capacity challenge A regional approach to Wastewater treatment in clackamas county

There’s a critical need to add wastewater treatment capacity in north Clackamas County. The population has doubled over the last 30 years, and our economy is growing.

A reliable system ensures the health of our communities and our environment. We have a solution.

Tri-City Water Pollution Control Plant

Our customers

The Water Environment Services partnership treats wastewater for more than 165,000 customers. People who live and work in our service area rely on these services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Water Environment Services provides services to Happy Valley, Milwaukie, Gladstone, Oregon City, West Linn, Johnson City, Hoodland, Boring, Fischer’s Forest Park and unincorporated Clackamas County.

Water Environment Services partnership service area

Prior to the creation of the Water Environment Services partnership in November 2016, the service area was made up of two districts: The Tri-City Service District and Clackamas County Service District No. 1.

The districts shared critical infrastructure, making the entire wastewater system more resilient to changes in population growth, economic development, and increasingly stringent regulations.

While district cooperation benefited ratepayers, there was no formal, long-term partnership in place to guarantee these ratepayer benefits would continue. That prompted the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners to create the formal partnership. The partnership provides additional certainty and stability for ratepayers while streamlining compliance with clean water regulations.

The membrane bioreactor at the Tri-City plant serves both districts.

Early days of the partnership

Prior to the formation of the service districts, individual communities struggled to manage their wastewater systems, which led to multi-year building moratoriums that halted economic growth and put public health and the environment at risk.

The formation of the service districts led to a regional, cooperative approach to wastewater treatment.

1973 newspaper article on sewer capacity

This regional approach resulted in the construction of the Tri-City Water Pollution Control Plant in 1986, which eliminated 21 raw sewage overflow points that were polluting the Clackamas and Willamette Rivers.

Tri-City Water Pollution Control Plant, 1986

The treatment process

Water Environment Services cleans 6 billion gallons of wastewater every year. The treatment of wastewater results in two products:

  • liquids – clean, treated water, released back into our rivers
  • solids – product of the wastewater treatment process, recycled back into the land
Tri-City digesters, used to treat solids

Capacity needs

The Tri-City facility, managed by Water Environment Services, began operating in 1986. Since then, our population has doubled and environmental regulations have become more stringent.

A 2011 expansion, funded entirely by Clackamas County Service District No. 1, increased the plant's capacity to treat liquids coming into the plant. This 2011 expansion has been called a "Model of Sustainability" by the wastewater industry and demonstrates the benefits of regional cooperation and co-investment.

Space and time are of the essence

An increase in solids treatment capacity is needed now. Our facility's two digesters, which currently hold and treat two million gallons of solids, are at risk of overcapacity. They must operate non-stop, without backup or the ability to do repairs or maintenance.

Working with partner communities, Water Environment Services has determined that a new digester is needed in order to continue to accommodate economic growth in our region and protect public health and the environment.

The new digester will be completed by 2020 and will provide needed capacity until 2030.

The cost of the project will be split based on capacity demands and future growth projections and will have a minimal impact on customers’ monthly bills – approximately a $1 increase for this vital project.

Clean, treated water flows from the Tri-City Water Pollution Control Plant

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