RUFUS - The city of Rufus and the La Grande firm Anderson Perry & Associates recently won an engineering award for revamping the small community's wastewater treatment site.

Rufus and the firm won a Grand Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies' "Engineering Excellence" competition for Oregon. The council announced the award during a ceremony Jan. 14 at the Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland.

The award recognizes engineering achievements demonstrating the highest degree of merit and ingenuity, a news release from Anderson Perry said.

Rufus, population 270, is in the eastern Columbia River Gorge at the John Day River Dam in Sherman County. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality was concerned Rufus' 27-year-old wastewater sewage disposal trenches and treatment lagoons were contaminating groundwater.

To solve the problem, the project irrigated underground through 165,000 lineal feet (31 miles) of drip line to maintain an industrial development area. Because the drip line is underground, this solution minimizes potential human and animal contact with reclaimed water and protects the system against vandalism and mechanical damage.

The project also provides some environmental benefits, including using plant material to naturally remove nitrates and uniformly disperse water into the crop's root zone.

- Phil Wright

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