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Callahan's owners can breathe sigh of relief over wastewater

The air smells a lot sweeter at Callahan's Lodge near Mount Ashland thanks to a new &

36;140,000 underground wastewater treatment system.

It replaces a 34-year-old open-air sewage lagoon treatment system that at times produced odors neighbors found offensive. The lodge has been a destination for visitors and locals alike since 1947.

Having a good sewage treatment system is vital for the business, which is near the Siskiyou Summit on Interstate 5 and miles from any municipal services, said owners Ron and Donna Bergquist. The couple purchased the property nine years ago.

It secures Callahan's future, Donna Bergquist said. Our infrastructure is dependent on our water and wastewater systems. I can't imagine having a property like this without these systems.

Installed two weeks ago, the chemical-free system can make raw wastewater 98 percent cleaner. It was produced by Orenco Systems Inc. in Sutherlin and installed by Brownsboro Excavation of Eagle Point.

— Ron Bergquist said the new facility automatically adjusts to a wide range of conditions. It's also can signal alarms in advance of potential problems and can be expanded to meet future needs.

While the lagoon system met or exceeded state Department of Environmental Quality standards and was considered a technological wonder in its day, Bergquist said with changing requirements, they were concerned it would eventually become obsolete.

It was also a challenge to operate, the owners said. They were required to have a certified operator, and there were troubles with odor from the lagoon system, which was near several homes.

When you have wastewater in a pond, when the wind catches it just right, it can get pretty rank, he said. We could see it was only going to get worse and we knew it needed to be replaced. We have been planning this for quite some time.

He said the new system has a fiberglass basin filled with an engineered textile material. The highly absorbent material treats a lot of wastewater in a very small space.

You can walk right next to it and not smell anything, because it all stays underground, Bergquist said.

Bill Choy is a reporter for the and the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at 482-3456.