OLYMPIA - The LOTT Clean Water Alliance is about to embark on a $3 million project to increase the public's comfort level with reclaimed wastewater.
The regional sewer utility has designed two additions to the East Bay Redevelopment area in downtown Olympia that will bring the public into close contact with reclaimed wastewater from the nearby wastewater-treatment plant. They are:
• The East Bay Public Plaza, a 0.7-acre public gathering place next to the new Hands On Children’s Museum where the public will be allowed to wade in a meandering, shallow urban stream of reclaimed wastewater.
• A 0.4-acre demonstration habitat area next to LOTT’s new regional services center that will include a reclaimed-water feature lined with a variety of wetland plants.
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The two sites flanking Jefferson Street and connected by a pedestrian path will feature educational signs and displays, highlighting the role that reclaimed wastewater will play in the community’s future.
“We’re trying to create a strong acceptance of reclaimed water as a resource,” LOTT Executive Director Mike Strub said. “The future of LOTT as a utility depends on full public support for reclaimed water.”
Last year, about 12.4 percent of the nearly 4 billion gallons of wastewater treated at the two LOTT plants in Olympia and Lacey received advanced treatment to qualify for reuse, LOTT public communications manager Lisa Dennis-Perez said. The percent of Class A reclaimed water produced by LOTT could double over the next 10 years.
Class A reclaimed water can be used for most nondrinking purposes, including irrigation, groundwater recharge, stream flow and wetland enhancement, and decorative fountains and ponds.
The intentional public contact with the reclaimed water, even if it’s only wading, is breaking new ground, said Gary Fraser, water-recreation program manager for the state Department of Health.
The water in the artificial stream will be recirculated and receive ongoing additional treatment and disinfection with chlorine and ultraviolet lights akin to what swimming pool water receives, Fraser said.
The Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater and Thurston County sewer partnership has yet to secure all the permits for the project. The two sites will require additional cleanup of contaminated soils under the guidance of the state Department of Ecology. The cleanup will occur as the sites are excavated for construction.
The plaza also will include landscaping with native plants, a small stage, a public restroom with a vegetated roof, security lighting and walkways.
A construction contract should be awarded this spring, with work likely to begin in June and completion set for about six months later, said Eric Hielema, a LOTT senior wastewater engineer.
The plaza will officially open next year in conjunction with the children’s museum opening, Hielema said.
John Dodge: 360-754-5444 firstname.lastname@example.org