DEQ Stormwater Compliance
Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) can periodically audit a city, to make sure its stormwater program complies with Federal and State requirements. These requirements make sure water in and around Springfield is clean and safe for use. Last year, Springfield received such an audit and passed with flying colors. Technically speaking, the DEQ conducted an MS4 Permit inspection, to review Springfield’s compliance with the terms and conditions of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Phase II MS4 general permit. The DEQ checked four of the six measures listed in the permit: public education and outreach, public involvement and participation, illicit discharge detection and elimination, and construction site runoff control. DEQ’s findings determined that the City is exceeding the requirements of the programs, provided extensive information and documentation for review, and passed the inspection. Using uncharacteristically positive language, the DEQ responded that, “Springfield has a sophisticated MS4 program in place and is meeting or exceeding the requirements of the permit, or on track to do so by deadlines.”
Industrial Pretreatment’s Environmental Compliance Awards
In 2022, Springfield’s Industrial Pretreatment Program, in conjunction with the Metropolitan Wastewater Management Commission (MWMC), awarded 10 permitted industries with a Certificate of Environmental Compliance Award. This award recognizes industries for achieving 100% compliance with their Wastewater Discharge Permit, which is important for the safety and health of our community. The City of Springfield and the MWMC applaud these industries for their continued partnership in protecting Springfield’s local wastewater collection system, the MWMC’s regional wastewater treatment plant, worker safety and health, and the McKenzie and Willamette rivers.
Springfield Industrial Pretreatment staff administer Wastewater Discharge Permits for specific industries that use the wastewater system. These permits require sampling and analysis, general compliance monitoring, spill control plans for industry-specific pollutants, and on-site facility inspections.
Recipients for this year are:
- Arclin U.S.A., LLC
- Farwest Steel Corporation
- Hexion Inc.
- International Paper Company
- McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center
- PeaceHealth Oregon Region – RiverBend Annex
- PeaceHealth – RiverBend Sacred Heart Medical Center
- Swanson Group Mfg., LLC
- Turtle Mountain, LLC – Main St.
- Turtle Mountain, LLC – Shelley St.
Additionally, congratulations to Turtle Mountain at the Main Street location! They received a trophy for 10 consecutive years of 100% compliance.
Pacific Northwest WaterReuse Association Summer Summit
In July 2022, Springfield’s Environmental Services staff hosted over 40 water professionals from across the state for the Pacific Northwest WaterReuse Association Summer Summit. The summit showcased the Eugene/Springfield regional wastewater treatment plant, along with historic and planned uses of recycled water. Recycled water is valuable for drought mitigation and conserving freshwater resources while also helping our regional wastewater treatment plant meet requirements to protect salmon habitat. This fit for the focus of the Summit, which highlighted the emerging value of recycled water as a community asset for drought resiliency, water quality protection, and other community benefits. The summit featured an evening session in downtown Springfield with tours of Springfield’s Mill Race, highlighting habitat restoration and the largest stormwater treatment pond in the state.
The wastewater treatment plant currently produces recycled water that meets quality standards for beneficial uses including watering some treatment plant landscaping and irrigating the poplar trees at the regional Biocycle Farm. Engineers at the City are now developing system upgrades by taking advantage of under-used infrastructure to increase our recycled water quality to the highest level in Oregon, which opens up a wide range of community uses where a non-drinking water need can be filled.
Poplar Lumber Sales
Springfield Environmental Services staff collaborated with Urban Lumber Company, BRING Recycling, and the City Manager’s Office to sell sustainably grown hybrid poplar lumber to the public for the first time. The poplar is grown with reclaimed water and nutrients from the regional wastewater treatment plant. Approximately two acres of 100+ acres harvested were diverted from paper pulp sales for this pilot lumber project. This shows the potential for a sustainable building material that can be used right in our own community. Nearly 70,000 board feet of unfinished poplar boards are available to the public and local builders until supplies are gone.
Renewable Natural Gas
In March 2022, the facility that treats Springfield and Eugene’s wastewater, managed by the Metropolitan Wastewater Management Commission (MWMC), celebrated the launch of its groundbreaking Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) project. The MWMC is the first public agency in Oregon to complete a project of this kind. Springfield supported the procurement and construction of the new RNG facility that “scrubs” biogas, a natural by-product of the wastewater treatment process, producing renewable natural gas for injection into the NorthWest Natural Gas pipeline. Through the end of the third Quarter of 2022 (Oct.) approximately 47,000 Dekatherm of RNG have been produced sold and successfully injected into the NW Gas pipeline.
Producing RNG means our wastewater treatment plant can beneficially use a significant portion of our waste gas product. The RNG project is good for our community and for the environment. This ceremony was the culmination of five years of planning and two years of construction, guided by the MWMC, and Springfield staff.
In July 2022, to call attention to the relationship between our streets and our rivers, five local artists were commissioned to install colorful painted murals at storm drains downtown. It’s part of the UpStream Art project, hosted by the City’s Stormwater Team and now in its 7th year. These five artists were chosen from a pool of twenty-four talented creatives who submitted unique design ideas through a Call To Artists. Winning pieces were chosen for showing the connection between humans and rivers that happens through a storm drain. Now, and for years to come, these five new murals create a colorful attraction and offer stormwater education to downtown visitors. UpStream Art murals and their artists can be seen online at bit.ly/upstreamtour.
On July 8, 2022, the Development and Public Works Department/ Metropolitan Wastewater Management Commission Communications team premiered their Springfield H2Oh! exhibit at the Springfield History Museum. The exhibit timeframe is July 8 – December 31, 2022.
Springfield is founded on water, it’s in our name! Without water, our community would look very different. We all need water to exist, and we need different types of water systems to live in a modernized city. But have you ever stopped and wondered what those systems are exactly, how they work, who maintains them, and what role we all have in protecting our water? In Springfield H2Oh! discover this and more, including the history behind the spring in Springfield.
The exhibit came together after Library/Museum staff approached the DPW/MWMC Communications team about possibly doing an exhibit on water. The exhibit focuses on the three water systems in Springfield – Drinking, Stormwater and Wastewater, and the workforce it takes to run all three to have a modernized community. Springfield Utility Board (SUB) supported the efforts by supplying artifacts and tools used as part of the drinking water system. Additionally, staff transformed the exhibit into “Possessed Pipes” for two weeks as part of the Museum’s Fright Nights leading up to Halloween.