City scores top EPA award

The city of Hood River and its wastewater treatment plant operator have received a top award for using recycled sewage as a fertilizer on agricultural soils.

Doug Nichols, project supervisor for Operations Management, Inc., and Mark Lago, director of public works/engineering, recently traveled to Chicago to accept the Biosolids Exemplary Management Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“It really took a team effort to make this happen,” said Nichols. “We’re very happy, OMI’s been running the Hood River project for almost 20 years and it’s wonderful to receive this kind of recognition for our work.”

Lago said this was the first year the city has applied for the biosolids award that has been given out for the past 15 years in recognition of technological, research, and scientific innovation.

“A national award isn’t something that happens every day,” said Lago. “It was a great honor, we felt a little bit elite.”

The city plant managed by OMI since 1983 went through a $5 million renovation last year that upgraded equipment for solids dewatering. Nichols said the process is now more efficient since the product is dried so more material can be hauled to sites approved by the DEQ. He said there are currently 110 properties in the county, comprising more than 2,500 acres, where the nutrient is used.

Even before the addition of new equipment, the city had tapped into an additional revenue source by processing more than 4,000 tons of biosolids between 1985 and 1990. Nichols said the Hood River treatment center currently processes about one million gallons of wastewater per day.

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