You may not know it, but Clovis' new sewage treatment plant has started operating.
There was no big public event, no ribbon cutting -- and no smell. And that's the way it was supposed to be.
By the end of summer, it will be hidden behind greenery and a wall.
"You won't smell it, you won't hear it, you won't see it," City Engineer Steve White said.
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The $38 million plant has been enclosed in buildings, and the plant barely utters a sound.
Opposition from the neighborhood east of Clovis turned the plant into a project that brought opponents and the city together.
"I had no idea it was up and running. It looks great from the exterior," said Deborah Saffell, a member of Families Protecting Neighborhoods, the group that initially objected to the plant. "It was a little bit painful, but we all came out with a better product."
The plant, at Ashlan and Thompson avenues, east of Clovis, is now processing about 1.5 million gallons of sewage. When fully built out in three phases, the plant will be able to treat 8.4 million gallons a day.
"They did an outstanding job of putting it together," said Wanda Armstrong, a plant neighbor.
She said she knew the plant would be a positive addition to her area after the city's sewer pump house was camouflaged as a Craftsman-style home at Leonard and Ashlan avenues.
The plant also will begin recycling water in a few weeks. Treated and disinfected water will run through pipes to the Fancher Creek canal, where most of the year it will mingle with much larger volumes of Kings River water.
The water can be used on crops and landscaping. The water could eventually be used in city parks and medians. Clovis also is working with Caltrans, Fresno State and Clovis Unified School District to send them recycled water for landscaping.
Recycled water is part of the city's multipronged effort to reduce reliance on ground water.
In January, the Environmental Business Journal, a Massachusetts-based environmental industry newsletter, gave the plant's builder, Denver-based CH2MHill, a Merit Project award for technology.
CH2MHill is bringing visitors from all over the world to show them the Clovis plant, said White, the Clovis city engineer.
Among those touring the site last week was David Michel, general manager for the Selma-Kingsburg-Fowler County Sanitation District.
He said his district will need to expand its sewage treatment plant and toured the Clovis site for some ideas.
"I was very impressed," he said. "They put together a lot of existing technology in a very unique way. ... We didn't smell any odors at all."
Eventually, the plant will become part of a southeast Clovis business park.
"We want people to look over to that facility and wonder what it is," White said. "This facility will blend into an office park."