Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant

Portland’s original wooden sewer system collected sewage from homes and business and carried it directly to the river. By the mid-1930s, the Willamette River was so polluted that salmon placed in the river died within 15 minutes. The Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant (CBWTP) opened on Portland’s north side, near the Columbia Slough, in 1952. It was the first wastewater treatment plant in Portland. The plant immediately improved the health of the Willamette River and has been expanded several times over the years to accommodate Portland’s ever-increasing population.

Sustainability is not just a buzzword in Portland. Plant staff are always searching for ways to improve energy-efficiency throughout the treatment process and at the plant itself. Two on-site, biogas-fueled generators produce power and provide heat for the plant. Furthermore, this is a wastewater treatment plant that gives back to the surrounding community and natural environment, with trails and public art on its extensive campus.
Through the years, several landscape architecture firms have had a hand in shaping the site, including Murase Associates and Studios. The 140-acre site invites community use and includes recreation trails, interpretive facilities, and public space at the newly-opened Columbia support facility.

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