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Supposedly, the Albany - Millersburg Talking Water Gardens is the first project of its kind in the USA: a combined private and public engineering effort to provide wastewater treatment for both municipal and local industry.
Sewage treatment lagoons are not usually considered tourist attractions. However, the Albany - Millersburg Water Reclamation Facility has created such an attraction. 50 acres of old lumber mill land have now been converted into a series of pools that are used for cooling off the wastewater from the treatment plant before the water enters the Willamette River. The water is warmer than is desirable for the river water, and also contains a lot of nitrogen which needs to be removed.
It so happens that wetlands are a great place to accomplish both of these tasks.
Having opened to the public in May of 2012, this is still a fairly new facility. There were no restrooms here as of October of 2012, but portable toilets have been placed in the parking area for the park across the street.
The facility consists of 50 acres of mostly ponds, with a series of trails winding through the artificial wetlands. A number of the areas within the facility are named.
In autumn and winter these wetlands have already proven to be a huge attractant to migrating fowl of all sorts, including American Coots, American Widgeons, and a scattered few Cinnamon Teal. You will also find a few predators showing up from time to time (Bald Eagles - check the tops of nearby trees, and Red-Tailed and Coopers Hawks are hidden in the foliage of nearby trees), and the creek that runs along the southwest edge of the facility will sometimes see Kingfishers and Great Blue Heron so don't forget to check there for bird life as well. The long, stringy droppings that you find in a few places on the trails are from coyotes, which also hunt the waterfowl.
A few additional photos:
Wintering Bird Life, 9 Feb 2013
Some Signs of Spring - April 21, 2013 at the Talking Water Garden
Updated Apr 25, 2013
Address: 725 NE Waverly, Albany, Oregon
In the summer, there are free concerts every Thursday evening at Monteith Park. I think they start at 7 PM. Each week was something different: country, rock, cajun, Celtic to name a few musical styles. Many people come by earlier in the afternoon and reserve a spot on the grass with their blankets, and then later have a picnic before the concert started.
Written Jan 10, 2003