Hermiston getting a new water treatment addition

HERMISTON, Ore. -- City leaders in Hermiston have done something that we don't often see. They're building a new state-of-the-art building that will keep local drinking water clean while still saving millions of dollars.

Hermiston's city budget raised a lot of eyebrows. The plans included building a trade center and also remodeling the local water treatment facility-- projects that would cost as much as 60 million dollars to accomplish.

"We've got a lot going for us in terms of infrastructure and all those sorts of things for these large scale commercial and industrial endeavors," says Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan

Initially, the city anticipated dipping into their reserves just to cover the budget. Almost 25 million dollars would be spent on the water treatment plant alone. But after a favorable bid, Hermiston was in the clear and ready for the changes at a much lower cost.

"We're going get a state-of-the-art facility. There's not going to be a lot like this one around the state. It's going to be nice," says water technician Brian Stevens.

Planners were astounded when the bid for the facility came in at just over 17 million-- that's eight million less than they anticipated. The renovations began in February and have had little to no affect on the plant's outflow. It's allowed the city to keep the local drinking water clean while saving millions of tax dollars in the process.

"The plant will be treating water continuously throughout it and nobody will know a difference on when we switch from the old plant to the new plant, just the quality of water we'll be producing," Brian added.

Officials tell us the old water treatment plant has outlived its life expectancy by almost a decade. Brian tells us the new facility will be beneficial to the community two-fold:

"We'll be producing a much higher quality water when we're done with the treatment process and it'll make for a better environment," he says.

The water treatment plant will be ready to go by December of next year. At the same time, Hermiston has yet to begin work on the trade center. Officials tell us they are waiting for more money to become available before they start construction.