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Talking Water Garden: How One Oregon Community (Albany) Is Turning Waste Into Wonder

In many communities we visit we notice cites which have been left ruined by industry. A black spot on the otherwise beautiful landscape these wastelands are thought to be ruined for years to come and often in their state of ruin and abandon they are the places where few positive things happen.

But Albany, Oregon saw their once dismal lumber and rail area as a place of promise as instead they dedicated time, effort and funds to making a positive out of what many thought could only be a negative. They did so through the construction of a unique project, Talking Water Garden.

The visionary project was a testament to the commitment of the City of Albany to healing this bleak landscape and creating an environment which once again could thrive and create a new ecosystem for the plants, animals and humans of the area.

Seeming to turn back the hands of time they repopulated the area with vegetation, native to the area and created a unique living laboratory which was able to create a wetland ideal for recirculating once thought to be waste water back into the local lakes and rivers.

Creation of this project was a labor of love as the goal of taking treated water and cooling it over time to release in a safe way became a priority.

How It Works:

What It Offers:

For those now visiting the area you now can indulger your sense of adventure within the environment which spans several areas, This area welcomes all visitors wishing to take a quiet outing, enjoy wildlife and plants. Walking Trails span several miles and offer unique viewpoints of the old lumber mill and railroad areas, groves of trees, marshes and log ponds.

Often sighted in the area area heron turtles, swallowtail butterflies, red winged blackbirds, minks and ducks amongst others.

If you talk to anyone in Albany they will likely suggest this location for you to visit because of its serene location and beautiful waterfall. It is a unique feature of the area that makes a big impact on the world around it, so it is not a wonder as to why the community has found it to be such a point of interest and pride alike.

My Adventure:

On my visit I had no ideas as to what exactly to expect, and I realize that if you read the beginning of this blog you probably see the benefits but still are left wondering a few things like I was. Does it smell bad? Why would I want to go and see waste water? Isn’t this harmful to the animals in the area? How can this be a place that would be on a must visit list?

This project took some $14 million to create and though the hard work of many the science behind it all of these questions can be easily answered. Yes it is safe for us and the animals.

No it doesn’t smell bad. And it is a wonder to see which is why you should visit.

If you are like me, you like to see unique locations and relish in those that find a way to give back uniquely. This area is the perfect specimen of just that. Something about seeing something as a before and after reveals something magical to me and walking around the paths thinking about how once there was a baron and blackened location which looked dead and seeing the progress to this living breathing location is something of amazement.

I enjoyed feeling like I was discovering a haven yet being in the middle of a thriving community. It is large enough that you never feel as though you are encroached upon by others even on a busy day and the sounds of the nature around you are so beautiful.

If you are a photographer, this is the place for you, especially during months of migration as many water foul find this to be a stopping point. It is simply something to see.

The name derives from the sound of the water gently falling over several cascades. There is even a Weeping Wall which is a water feature created by a former concrete loading dock, now transformed into a water feature. It is hard to even imagine just how they decided to create some of these amazing stops around the park.

Then far beyond the wonder of the park itself, knowing that it actually is helping to circulate water that once was also thought to be waste back into clean water over the span over only a couple days is overwhelmingly mind boggling. Up to 5 million gallons of treated water flow at any given time through this series of pools and drops to help lower the treated water temperature to a degree safe for natural release.

Know Before You Go:

Cost of Admission: FREE

Address: 577 Waverly Dr NE - Albany, OR 97321

Give yourself at least an hour to explore the park. If you have less time, take the major loop around the West Beaver Marsh, East Beaver Marsh and Log Pond.


  • Do not disrupt or feed the wildlife

  • Keep pets on leash

  • Stay on walking paths or trails

  • No swimming

  • No smoking

  • Do not release home or classroom pets into the wild here, this is dangerous to the native species of plants and animals


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