Located within the heart of wine country, McMinnville (pop. 32,760) has been making concerted efforts to increase its sustainability after a public meeting on community values in 2008, where the community’s voice was heard: “Sustainability is important.”
Examples of actions taken in the name of sustainability include an LED streetlight pilot project; a park recycling pilot project; installation of additional bike racks at city facilities; building energy audits; various HVAC and lighting upgrades; city-wide recycling; and staff training through monthly newsletters. An interdepartmental committee that meets monthly, and reports McMinnville’s sustainability efforts to the city manager, guides McMinnville’s sustainability efforts. Due to the nature of their work, different departments have unique opportunities to support the city’s sustainability goals and some have more opportunities than others do. To highlight this, McMinnville’s Wastewater Services division has long embraced efforts to reduce energy consumption and to find low-impact solutions to challenging, yet common, problems.
A few notable examples of their efforts include:
- Heating the primary administration building with recovered heat from treated effluent;
- Reusing high quality treated water for irrigation and other facility needs, minimizing the use of drinking water;
- Recycling nutrients from wastewater into biosolids for agricultural application;
- Using a biofilter-odor-scrubber (wood chips) to reduce offensive and corrosive odors that arise from the treatment process in an environmentally friendly way. The scrubbing action is provided by naturally occurring bacteria, discontinuing the need for strong chemicals required by traditional odor scrubbers;
- Working with the Association of Clean Water Agencies sustainability energy project to develop a comprehensive wastewater sustainable energy training program; and
- Using the Energy Star portfolio manager to develop a benchmark for energy use allows Wastewater Services to track progress with sustainability efforts.
by Lucy Falcy, Associate Planner
The above article is 1 of 4 centered on sustainability in the west. They first appeared in the 2012 April/May issue of Western Planner and are reprinted with permission from Western Planner.