Who is Impacted by Molalla Wastewater?
The Molalla Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) handles raw sewage from the community, and generates roughly one million gallons of ‘treated wastewater’ every day. This waste has to be disposed of, so Molalla maintains a permit, issued by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).* The permit process requires public participation as well as technical review by DEQ staff.*Molalla STP is not allowed to discharge pollutants to surface waters without a permit from the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) manages this system in partnership with state environmental agencies. Oregon DEQ is one of 46 state agencies authorized to issue NPDES permits. Conditions are added to the final NPDES permit, with the intention of ensuring compliance with all state and federal laws. This is necessary to protect not just people, but also plants and animals. If Molalla STP fails to comply with their permit, we are all placed at risk.
Here are the most obvious impacts…
…If we swim in the Molalla River in the summer, then we need to protect the quality of the river water. Since early 2007, Molalla STP has been discharging directly into the Molalla River at mile 20 (roughly a mile upstream from the Highway 211 bridge). The permit allows seasonal discharges, but Molalla has repeatedly been granted waivers to keep the STP ponds from overflowing, in the late Spring and early Fall.
And, if we swim out of season during rare hot
weather, shouldn’t we be aware if Molalla STP is discharging upstream?
…If we take our drinking water from the Molalla River, as Canby does, then we need to ensure any upstream polluters are diligently compliant with the health and safety standards for their wastewater discharge. The health of Canby citizens depends on the effective management of the Molalla STP.
…If we fish in the Molalla River, we need healthy fish. Water quality is critical. It needs to be clean, not too warmed, without excessive added nutrients, synthetic compounds, and suspended solids.
Given the history, can we really trust that Molalla STP is sufficiently cleaning
their wastewater before piping
it into the Molalla River?
…If we farm near the Molalla River, we need uncontaminated irrigation water, and we need the ecological balance of a healthy river system. When that balance is tipped, our farms can be decimated by changed insect populations and other new problems.
…If we hunt near the Molalla River, we need clean water to protect the health of deer, waterfowl, and other game.
…If we are birders, or if we just appreciate nature and value sharing time with our children, studying flora and fauna, exploring the diversity of habitats, and watching the passage of time through the seasons, we need clean water that will sustain these species.
…If we live near the Molalla River, we need a healthy river, which depends on clean water. An unhealthy river eventually impacts the air we breathe, cascading into widespread asthma, allergy and other health impacts.
This is Oregon.
WE are OREGON!
Can we live up to our state’s reputation
and preserve a healthy environment
for our children?