The next Molalla Wastewater Compliance Meeting will be held at noon Wednesday, Sept. 4, at Molalla City Hall, 117 N. Molalla Ave.
This meeting is open to the public for anyone who is interested in the operation of the city of Molalla’s wastewater system in compliance with its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit and the consent decree signed by the city in 2015 to settle the the Bear Creek Recovery Clean Water Act lawsuit.
The meeting will include the presentation of its latest compliance report, which is also available on the city’s website.
Susan Hansen, a member of the Bear Creek Recovery group and one of the litigants in the Clean Water suit, as well as a local watchdog on water quality issues, says she thinks it’s important for Canby residents to be informed about this process, and get involved if they can.
From November to April, the city of Molalla is permitted to discharge its treated effluent into the Molalla River, upstream from where Canby Utility and its contractor, Veolia North America, collect the city of Canby’s drinking water. Some believe this could be a contributing factor in the unpleasant taste and smell of the city’s water, particularly during summer months.
Bear Creek Recovery has also expressed concerns about unknown/emerging contaminants that may not be detected or removed in current wastewater/drinking water processes and about Molalla’s interest in expanding the use of the Molalla River for effluent disposal.
“The meeting is required because Molalla failed to do certain wastewater improvement tasks it legally agreed to do in the consent decree,” Hansen said. “Bear Creek Recovery enforced the open decree, and Molalla agreed to hire a compliance specialist and to hold public compliance meetings every quarter to tell the public about its progress on wastewater issues. The meeting will have the compliance specialist give a report and the public can ask questions.”
Also on the horizon for Molalla is their Mutual Agreement Order with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to have a new or improved wastewater plant that meets major facility standards up and running by December 2023.
An in-depth study of the water quality impacts in our area is also currently underway. Farm runoff is another major factor that experts have cited as a factor in Canby’s water woes, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is funding this study to address the agricultural impacts in particular.
“In short, what Molalla does or not do with its effluent can affect Canby. Bear Creek Recovery and partner water quality advocacy groups have been advised that it is far better to get involved early in a process like this plant design/major permit than it is to wait and find there is a need for legal action to correct things that we oppose,” Hansen said. “The people of Canby should make their concerns known at meetings like these.”