Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tensile Structures with Gabion Walls and Globemallow at Chaparral WTP

Chaparral Water Treatment Plant

Converting canal water into drinking water requires treatment plants designed for that purpose, because canals expose water to conditions unlike those in natural waterways, and because the water is generally coming from elsewhere, with contaminants, pH, and mineral levels different from the local waters the existing plants were engineered to treat in the first place. So for a long time, the City of Scottsdale paid the City of Phoenix for treated canal water, even though Scottsdale has an allotment of its own. Scottsdale built this plant, which became operational in 2006, to do hi-tech things like microfiltration/ultrafiltration (MF/UF), ozonation, granular carbon (GAC) adsorption and ferric sulfate coagulation, to remove undesirable tastes, odors, and other stuff you don't want to drink from the canal water. They wrapped the plant in this tasty masonry and rusted steel skin, and surrounded that with exhibits and features related to the desert. For example, this fountain, which bears an inscription around its rim:

 "The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives."

 Gabion Buttresses

Surrounding the plant are various xeriscaping (dry landscaping design / practice suited to a desert or drought setting) exhibits. My favorite, because it's a spiral shape you can ride a bike down inside of, was "Terraced Cascade" by Lorna Jordan.

Terraced Cascade: Collects Water, and Bikes

I saw four or five other cyclists just coasting around this little spiral down to the middle. Something in it pulls you to do it. Here was one nice person on a sweet Surly Long Haul Trucker who gave me some tips on what to look at around the water treatment plant.

 Surly, But Not Surly, Surely

 Looking across the spiral, you get an idea of its effect on bikes: down, down down...

This was a great spot to visit. If you're going to build a plant to treat up to 30 million gallons of canal water a day in an existing neighborhood, at one end of a beloved park, then an effort to make it pleasing to the eye, relevant and possibly educational, is welcome. And if you wrap it in rusted, tensile steel and gabion buttresses, then I will find myself irresistibly drawn to it when the weather is fine and the bike paths call. Get up. Go ride.

 40I Never Sleeps

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