The city of Camas has begun improvements to its wastewater treatment facility that will make the plant more environmentally friendly and allow it to produce fertilizer to be used locally.The $12 million project will increase solids capacity to meet the projected needs of the city for the next 20 years, convert the digester process to produce high-quality biosolids and upgrade technology and software, said Eric Levison, Camas public works director.Construction of the improvements has begun and is expected to wrap up in early 2012, Levison said. The facility was built in the 1970s. The city was recently named the recipient of a $3.5 million loan from the Washington Department of Ecology. About $1.77 million of the loan is forgiven principal, meaning the city does not need to repay the money, City Administrator Lloyd Halverson said. The remainder of the 20-year loan has an interest rate of 2.8 percent, he said.The majority of the project is funded by a $10 million loan from the Washington State Public Works Board to be repaid at 0.5 of a percent interest over the next 20 years. The city will use reserve funds and bonds to cover any remaining costs, Levison said.The improved plant will use an anaerobic process, which does not require oxygen, as opposed to an aerobic process that uses oxygen. The change means the new facility will produce class A biosolids, which are safe to use as fertilizer for nearly all applications, Levison said. Anaerobic microorganisms will decompose the organic pollutants. The remaining material will then be moved to a belt dryer, which will produce small pellets.