City Sustainability Projects

For years, the City of Pendleton has been a leader in environmental sustainability. Our innovative programs have cut costs and made us better stewards of our city's, state's, and country's natural resources.

Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) – In 2003, the City began replenishing the basalt aquifer below Pendleton which holds a great deal of the City’s drinking water supply. By pumping treated drinking water back into the ground during times of low-water demand, we have now reduced the depletion of our aquifer from 3.4 ft. per year to only 0.8 ft. per year. Depletion is expected to decrease further in the future such that we are actually adding 0.5 ft. per year to the overall groundwater level in our aquifer. For more information about the ASR program, click here.

ASR Hydropower Generation – In 2011, the City began a pilot test to determine the feasibility of capturing excess power generated by the ASR pumps using regenerative drive technology. Through an agreement with Pacific Power, energy generated using the regenerative drive technology is subtracted from the overall utility bill. The preliminary results of this pilot have been very promising: currently, we are generating enough power to ensure a 4 – 5 year payoff on installation of the new system, at which point we will begin an overall reduction in our utility bill, saving between $6000 and $7000 per year or $60,000 to more than $70,000 if applied to multiple wells!

Biomass Cogeneration Facility “Waste-to-Energy Program” – In 2011, the City began work on a cogeneration facility as part of the upgrades at the Waste Water Treatment Plant. This project, partially funded by Energy Trust of Oregon and a Blue Sky Grant from Pacific Power, has given us the ability to convert solids arriving at the Waste Water Treatment Plant into useful energy and high quality fertilizer. The system was designed to generate about 750,000 kWh per year, which translates into about $50,000 annually in saved utility costs. The fertilizer produced is spread over the City’s wheat field (see below) to reduce the amount of synthetic fertilizer applied.

Building Operator Certification (BOC®) – Through our partnership with Energy Trust of Oregon, several of our facilities operators have acquired a BOC from the Northwest Energy Efficiency Council. Supplementing their knowledge of facilities management with energy conservation courses, our operators have been able to improve energy performance in many City-owned facilities.

Conservation Goat Grazing – In 2012, the City implemented conservation grazing along the Umatilla River for weed and fire management purposes. Goats are ideal for weed control because their digestive systems kill invasive weed seeds and they prefer nasty weeds to native species. Ecologically, the goats fill an important niche that was historically occupied by plains animals such as bison. By controlling overgrowth, the goats actually help restore the native vegetation which depends on periodic disturbance to thrive. Goats graze during the summer in May and June, so keep an eye out!

LED Light Bulb Replacement – In an effort to cut costs and maintenance for City street lights, the Public Works department has been replacing conventional bulbs with much more efficient, long-lasting LED lights. Beginning with Main Street, the City has upgraded street lights to LEDs which offer a spectacular 2-year pay-off. That means after only 2 years of operation, we will have recouped the entire installation cost! And since the bulbs last 17 years compared to the 3-year life of a conventional bulb, we’re saving crews a lot of work.

Solar Projects – Both our Water Treatment Plant and Waste Water Treatment Plant boast impressive solar arrays. Completed in 2007 and 2008 respectively, the solar installations generate over 400,000 kWh per year and currently save us about $7 per day in utility costs. In 2027 and 2028 when the City gains full ownership of the panels (currently they are owned and maintained by Honeywell), utility savings could reach $87 per day! Click the image at right to view more solar facts.

Wheat Farm (Bio-Solid Retention) – Did you know that the City has a wheat field? We have 1000 acres surrounding the Pendleton Airport that support a rotational wheat crop of 500 acres per year. The fields are fertilized with bio-solids produced through the Waste Water Treatment Plant’s cogeneration facility. By applying this natural, recycled fertilizer, the field has a lower demand for costly commercial fertilizers. It’s a win-win for everyone!

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