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Corvallis Uses “Treasure Hunt” To Sniff Out Energy Savings At Wastewater Plant

Chris Lehman

Technicians at the Corvallis Waste Water Plant went on a one-day blitz to identify ways the 65-year-old facility could save energy.

They called it a “Treasure Hunt.” For one day, workers examined every piece of equipment with the specific goal of figuring out how to make it work more efficiently. They came up with 60 different ways to save energy.

Some were easy to implement. Others will take time and additional investments, said James Green, a wastewater operator for the City of Corvallis Wastewater Reclamation Plant. “The things we’re trying to conquer first would be what we would consider to be gems, which are the ones that yield the highest energy savings for the smallest cost and the lowest amount of effort,” said Green.

Still, even the low-hanging fruit helped the city trim more than five percent of its annual energy costs at the plant. That might not sound like a lot, but it adds up. “This facility is one of the largest electricity users within the City of Corvallis electrical operation," said Patrick Rollens, a city spokesman. "So if we can make some small changes here that contribute to the bottom line, it’s going to have a really big impact on overall energy usage."

While the city seeks to implement as many of the energy-savings ideas as possible, Green says one of the best ways for Corvallis residents to help is to make sure they're not flushing trash down the toilet. "A lot of things get flushed down that we have to screen out, and eventually it goes to the landfill and it just takes a lot of extra energy with us being the middle man rather than people just putting it in the garbage," said Green.

The "Treasure Hunt" was organized through a partnership with the Energy Trust of Oregon's"Strategic Energy Management" program.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018 and became News Director in March, 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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