Blue Heron Project Update

The Blue Heron Task Force continues to move forward exploring all avenues of use for the Blue Heron site in West Linn.  Here the update that was given to Council.  

What is the Blue Heron Site?

Blue Heron Overview
Site Overview

Purchased by Clackamas County Water Environment Services (WES) on behalf of CCSD #1 and the Tri-City Service District in July 2012 for the outfall pipe and associated discharge permit to help meet increasingly stringent environmental regulations.

WES plans to use approximately five acres of the site near the existing pump station and outfall pipe for their future operations

Site Conditions

The site contains a 15-acre pond formed by an earthen berm approximately 15 feet in height.  

Wetlands and a creek lie between the pond and slope rising to the site’s northern boundary along 5th Avenue.  The wetland, creek, and associated habitat conservation areas are protected by the CDC.  Most of the site is within the federally designated 100-year floodplain.   This significantly limits the potential use of the site.

The pond has been used for about 40 years to treat and settle cellulose and other materials contained in the wastewater produced at the former Blue Heron mill.  200,000 cubic yards of sludge in the pond ranging from about 5 to 14 feet in depth.  The sludge contains low levels of contaminants from paper production and recycling at the mill.   Minor soil contamination was also found adjacent to the pond.  Elevated concentrations of metals were detected in groundwater down gradient from the pond.


Remediation is partially dependent upon the future use of the site.   The alternative remediation approaches could have significantly different costs and could leave the site at very different levels of suitability for redevelopment.  WES will identify and implement a basic level of remediation that allows for safe, non-intensive use of the site that meets DEQ’s minimum requirements (assuming they are permitted use of the outfall and discharge permit).
More intensive development would require additional investment from the City and/or private sources.

Typical remediation methods for contaminated sludge range from drying and capping the sludge to removing it.   If the contaminated material is remediated on site, which is likely, use implications include:

  • The stability of areas underlain by contaminated material 
  • Potential use restrictions on areas underlain by contaminated material to avoid potential exposure 
  • Potential inundation of the pond area, post remediation, by surface or ground water

Possible Concepts?


  • Common elements 
  • Passive park 
  • Interpretive learning center 
  • Community center/aquatic center
  • Active park with a sports field emphasis
  • Active park with various features – extension of Willamette Park 
  • Mixed income, green housing
  • High rise senior condos
  • High-end, estate lot housing 
  • Campground
  • Public Works Operations facility 
  • Commercial development

Recently, I had the opportunity to tour the site with WES and took some pictures below of the current conditions.  This property is truly a unique opportunity for our City.  

What is your vision? 

Property Overview 


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