Here's One Way to Give Visual Appeal to a Clean-Water Plant

A waterfall, pond and landscaping help turn a Pennsylvania city’s clean-water plant into a visual asset and a source of operators’ pride.

Here's One Way to Give Visual Appeal to a Clean-Water Plant

The team at the Easton Treatment Plant includes, from left, Butch Kulger, Jack Keiter, Chuck Wilson (plant operations manager), and Alex Hoffman. 

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A waterfall near the entrance to the Easton (Pennsylvania) Wastewater Treatment Plant is the first thing people see when passing the plant on a busy two-lane highway. When they look closer, it appears that the source of the water is overflow from a plant structure. The slope of clarifier one directly faces the road and was an excellent location for a water fall pond water feature.

“Clarifier No. 1 faces the very heavily traveled Highway PA 611, so we constructed the waterfall to look like it was part of the structure,” says Chuck Wilson, plant operations manager.

15-foot fall

Falling from nearly 15 feet above ground, the overflow cascades over decorative rocks and empties into a 6-foot-diameter EPDM-lined pond below. A submerged Complete Aquatics 10,000-gallon pump circulates potable water through a 3-inch-diameter PVC pipe back to the spillway.  

The waterfall follows the slope of an existing earthen slope from the top of the clarifier to pond level. A 3-foot-wide strip of crushed white stone retains the cascading waterfall on both sides. An additional 5-foot-wide strip of larger dark-toned stone borders the white stone and highlights the waterfall as a focal point of the scene. Approximately 2 tons of stone and additional landscaping material were used during the construction.

The clarifier’s location relative the road and the natural incline of the surrounding earth provided an excellent spot for the waterfall and pond. Nearly two tons of decorative stone and additional landscape material was used to construct the water feature.   

Project reborn

The motivated was desire to present the plant as a visual asset to the community. Wilson says the idea the waterfall was proposed by his predecessor nearly 10 years ago. A professional landscape designer had submitted a design, but budget constraints derailed the project.

“I was the assistant superintendent at the time, and we were all pretty disappointed,” Wilson says. In 2017, Jack Keiter transferred to the plant from the parks department. With his hardscaping and landscaping knowledge, with help from operator Butch Kugler, the waterfall was built in 2019.

The plant is just under 10 acres. Directly across Highway 611 is the Delaware Canal. A wooden footbridge is also maintained by the state park system, crossing the Delaware canal and leading to a public walking trail that parallels the river. The facility discharges into the Delaware River immediately downstream from the footbridge.

Team effort

Keiter led a team from the facility in planting and maintaining honeysuckles along the chain-link fence that borders the plant near its entrance. “They all do a wonderful job of keeping the place looking nice,” Wilson says.

In recognition of his efforts to beautify the plant, Keiter received the 2020 Outstanding Employee Award presented by the Eastern Pennsylvania Water Pollution Control Operators Association. “Originally, the pond was stocked with koi fish, but with our proximity to the Delaware River, we believe herons may have eaten the fish,” says Wilson. “We intend to restock it someday.”

Today, a few turtles and some frogs populate the pond, which supports lily pads and cattails. Light-sensor-controlled LED lights nestled in the flora illuminate the waterfall at night. Says Wilson, “The waterfall and pond have become a nice attraction and a conversation piece for our facility.”   


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