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Nye Beach and Nye Creek

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Made possible with the generous support of the Oregon Wildlife Foundation

Nye Creek Biofiltration Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP), 2011:

An Overview

Why was the project needed? In 2007, the Oregon Surfrider Foundation had monitored high levels of fecal matter at the mouth of Nye Creek where it empties into the Pacific Ocean.  To find out why levels of fecal matter were high, staff from the City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant collected random samples of stream water in the Nye Creek Drainage Basin and tested for water quality; the future Nye Creek Biofiltration Supplemental Environmental Project site (see below) was one area where samples were collected.  Test results indicated the water quality varied due to the amount of water in the various streams, the time of day, and coastal storm events.  As a result of the findings, Public Works personnel conducted smoke testing of the City’s storm drainage and sanitary sewer systems in the drainage area to determine if these systems were contributing to the pollution.  Smoke testing did find some cross connections.  They also found two cases of illegal dumping of sewer laterals directly into a stream.  All sources of sewage found in the drainage basin were corrected.

In early 2008, the City of Newport and the State of Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) entered into a Mutual Agreement (MAO) to resolve a civil penalty assessed to the City based upon a violation occurring at the City’s Water Treatment Plant.  The MAO reduced the City’s penalty on the condition that the City satisfactorily complete an environmental project approved by DEQ. The City and DEQ agreed upon the construction of the Nye Creek Biofiltration Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP). 

Where is the project located? The project site is on the west side of NW Nye Street, just west of the City’s former Wastewater Treatment Plant; north of NW 3rd Street; east of the Surfside Mobil Village trailer park; and to the south of an apartment complex located at 435 NW Nye Street. The project site is swamp land much of the year due to water coming from the slope of the north embankment.

How does it clean the water? The Supplemental Environmental Project is designed to create a “kidney”, or a polishing/cleaning area, in this area of Nye Creek.  This "polishing" action will essentially remove pollutants from Nye Creek and, in turn, create cleaner creek water entering into its final destination, the Pacific Ocean.  In order to achieve the required results, the area surrounding the project site of Nye Creek has been excavated and planted with wetland vegetation.  The excavation is carefully designed to direct overflows of Nye Creek into the excavated area where it will be “polished”, or cleaned, by the wetland vegetation.

How will we know it works? The City continues to monitor water quality in the Nye Creek drainage basin to determine the long term trend, and continues to work with the Oregon Surfrider Foundation as they monitor the pollutant levels of Nye Creek.  As part of the MAO, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is requiring the City to complete one year of post-construction monitoring of the SEP project site, from November 2010 to November 2011. A report of the monitoring will be submitted to DEQ. Financial assistance for the establishment of the monitoring program was provided by the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, and the Ocean and Coastal Management Program.

The City of Newport would like to thank everyone involved in this project. We've taken a significant step forward to providing a clean and attractive beach recreactional area for Newport's visitors and residents alike.