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Prineville wetlands project wins another national honor


The city of Prineville has received another national honor for its wetlands project and its innovative approaches to environmental protection and water conservation.

The city and engineering firm Anderson Perry were honored with the prestigious Grand Award, one of only 16 given, by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) at the 52nd Engineering Excellence Awards competition on May 7 in Washington, D.C.

Grand Awards recognize engineering accomplishments from the U.S. and throughout the world that demonstrate exceptional innovation, complexity, achievement and value. This year’s competition yielded 196 entries, and a panel of judges selected the nation’s best projects to receive Grand Awards.

“It is an exceptional honor for the city’s Crooked River Wetlands to be singled out as one of the top national engineering projects in the nation,” said Prineville Mayor Steve Uffelman.

In 2005, Prineville was tasked with upgrading its wastewater treatment facilities. Rather than build a $62 million mechanical plant that would consume a large amount of electricity and chemicals, city leaders opted for a more cost-effective and environmentally sensitive approach.

Completed in 2017, the city’s Crooked River Wetlands project avoided significant rate increases for businesses and citizens with a natural wastewater treatment system that established a 120-acre wetlands complex along the Crooked River.

While the complex incorporates effective wastewater treatment — expected to meet the city’s needs through 2040, and beyond — it also serves as an interactive community asset with hiking trails, wildlife-watching, and educational kiosks.

With miles of walking paths and hiking trails, educational resources for schoolchildren and miles of riparian improvements along the Crooked River, what could have been a standard public works project was instead designed to be a vital community asset. Approximately half of the $7.7 million project investment was sourced from grants and partner funding.

Last year, the Crooked River Wetlands project garnered national recognition — both from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which described it as “an outstanding contribution to environmental protection.”

“We hope the work we are doing in Prineville will inspire other rural communities to take a meaningful, cost-effective approach to conservation and environmental stewardship,” said Prineville City Engineer Eric Klann.

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