Force main installation project nearly complete in Nehalem

Subsurface infrastructure finishes soon

Something you don’t hear much about these days is anything having to do with massive civil infrastructure projects at no extra cost to the local taxpayer. But that’s exactly what has happened in Nehalem with the Nehalem Bay Wastewater Agency’s (NBWA) new sewer force main project, which is in its final stages of completion.

The company Armadillo operates the horizontal directional driller machine, which was used to bore under the highway. (Top Right) Crews work to install the 16 inch PVC pipe that is used to span the Nehalem River. (Bottom Right) An illustrated example of a force main project. – Courtesy photos/Bruce Halverson

By Brian Cameron

The project itself consists of running a new sewage transfer line from downtown Nehalem to Lagoon-B at the wastewater treatment plant out on Tideland road. Though there is still the ability to utilize the old line, the new one, which measures at 18 inches in diameter and roughly 1,550 feet long, is certainly something to behold. Running 55 feet below the Nehalem River the new sewer force main line transfers waste by means of pumping stations and compressors all the way across the river and to the treatment plant.
“It’s not the flashiest of projects but it has definitely been quite the undertaking,” said NBWA’s Manager Bruce Halverson. “All we have left to do is some light landscaping, paving and sidewalk reconstruction.”
What makes the force main project truly astounding though, and one that might raise a few brows is the fact that the NBWA did it without having to raise sewer rates for their customers.
“We did it the old fashioned way,” Halverson said. “We saved our money and we paid for it.”

Crews work to install the 16 inch PVC pipe that is used to span the Nehalem River. Courtesy photos/Bruce Halverson

By careful budgeting the NBWA was able to set away $1.8 million in order to pay for the project outright.
“The NBWA was able to plan this project, have it engineered which included various coring testing in Nehalem, at the plant and in the river itself, as well as completed construction without having to acquire loans, bonds or grants, or raising our rates or fees.” Halverson said.
They found a local Salem area contractor, Emery and Sons, to do the project and got going as soon as they could.
“The contractors had our best interests in mind,” Halverson said. “They cared for the locals here in Nehalem and did everything they could to keep everything going smooth.”

An illustrated example of a force main project. Courtesy photo/Bruce Halverson

In addition to Emery and Sons the NBWA also used a company called Armadillo to facilitate the Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) who utilized a “Jack and Bore” method to drill under the highway. In order for the project to even happen was to have a 16 inch PVC pipe run from the office downtown to Eighth Street, then was connected to a 16 inch PVC in order to make the 55 foot subterranean dive under the river.
It’s not every day a large project such as a force main can be accomplished without leveraging funding from customers over a planned time period, to do so with no additional rate hikes or extra fees is almost unheard of in today’s civil fiscal climate. The current new line now runs directly from the Administration building in downtown Nehalem, up Tohl road till around Eight Street and then dives down the 55 feet where it then spans the riverbed to the treatment plant about a quarter mile away.

Armadillo facilitated the “Jack and Bore” drilling required to accomplish the force main project. –
Courtesy photo/Bruce Halverson
During the project regular sewer operations were still maintained and an aqua dam was used in Lagoon B to install the new hardware. Courtesy photo/Bruce Halverson