Prineville celebrates opening of Crooked River Wetlands

Bird-watchers excited by novel sewage solution

This isn't your typical 'sewer plant'

PRINEVILLE, Ore. - Prineville city leaders on Friday -- the eve of Earth Day -- unveiled the new 500-acre Crooked River Wetlands Complex, a novel approach to sewage treatment that also has drawn fans from the bird-watching community. 

The man-made wetland complex took two years to complete and is a sustainable project that includes educational kiosks, a pavilion and five miles of trails for families to enjoy. 

The $7.7 million project was completed earlier this year after the city decided to invest in a wetland project, rather than spending $62 million on a mechanical treatment plant for sewage in Prineville. 

"I think this is the future of wastewater for certain communities,"  City Engineer Eric Klann said. "Obviously, large communities wouldn't be able to dispose of their wastewater in this fashion, but it's a really good win for the city of Prineville."

The wetlands also are expected to benefit wildlife. 

"We're already getting a lot of positive feedback from the local birders on this," Klann said. "They're very surprised. Even though a lot of our planting haven't come in, they're seeing a lot of birds out here that they wouldn't normally see, so I think it will become a destination spot for local birders." 

Chuck Gates thinks the wetlands complex will put Prineville on the map when it comes to bird-watching. 

"This is a real game changer for Central Oregon, as far as a birdie standpoint Because with all of the extra water here and the shallow water, it's going to provide habitat for the birds to come in," Gates said. 

Klann said the city is now looking toward investing in creating sustainable energy from Bowman Dam. 

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