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Concerned about Lake Oswego water quality?

City seeks input via surveys

Lake Oswegans concerned about watershed health are being asked to weigh in on a plan to improve water quality.

The Clean Streams Plan, launched in April, will update a 14-year-old city plan that steers improvements in the city's surface water system. That system carries water away from streets and buildings to one of three waterways locally: Oswego Lake, the Willamette River and the Tualatin River. It is a significant contributor to phosphorus buildup in Oswego Lake, where the nutrient causes algae growth.

Lake Oswego residents are being asked to weigh in on the Clean Streams Plan through an Internet poll, now online at www.ci.oswego.or.us/engineer/clean_streams. Paper surveys are also available by contacting Kristen Kibler at 503-235-5881.

A meeting set for July 27 at 6:30 p.m. at city hall, 380 A Ave., is also designed to collect input.

'We're trying to pull together a group of people who will want to show up again and again,' said Elizabeth Papadopoulos, principal engineer for the city of Lake Oswego. 'Part of this effort is to start talking to them about what a Clean Streams Plan is, what are our issues and what are our needs right now … also hoping to have them do some information gathering once they have the basics down.'

Those interested in attending meetings will eventually be asked to document surface water problems and successes around Lake Oswego, Papadopoulos said, as well as talk about what the city's goals should be in improving water quality.

Currently, the city's surface water system taps 25 miles of streams and 130 miles of underground pipes to convey water to the lake and rivers. Because the area's soils are naturally high in phosphorus, the nutrient flows from both soil erosion and excess fertilizer to Oswego Lake and other waters.

The Clean Streams Plan aims for long-term reduction of phosphorus and other watershed pollutants. Those pollutants include concrete wash from construction sites, fertilizers, soap, detergent, animal waste, compost, bird droppings, moss retardant, pesticides, dust, grease and oil, waste and soil from construction sites - essentially, many of the things commonly present in the watershed.

Previously called the Surface Water Management Master Plan, earlier renditions of the Clean Streams Plan were geared to prevent flooding. The plan historically outlined management, maintenance, administration and capital improvements to the city's surface water system. Through a contract with OTAK, Inc., the city began revising the latest version of the plan, crafted in 1992, to place a greater emphasis on water quality in April.

The plan will also explore water reuse in some city programs and the potential for adding green streets throughout town. Green streets allow water to absorb into the ground rather than directing it, through pipes, to waterways.

Papadopoulos said citizen involvement would expand the reach of the project as well as educate locals about watershed health and generate interest in the new program.

'In order for a Clean Streams Plan to work it really has to be community supported,' she said. 'By getting people involved we should be able to come up with something, at the end of the day that the community can support.'