Water district plugs leaky roof

Oak Lodge remodeling improvements triple usable space

It's not every day that the guys who take care of your pipes invite the public over to check out their new pipes, so it was doubtless curiosity that drew scores of people this past month to the Oak Lodge Water District's open house for their remodeled offices.

The building at 14496 River Road, which serves the unincorporated area between Milwaukie and Gladstone, got a new roof in addition to plumbing. A previously flat roof leaked and caused mold and allergy problems among employees, so new paint and carpeting were also part of the district's $710,000 order.

'It's the same building, just different insides,' said Dan Bradley, OLWD general manager. 'The remodel's beautiful, and it's nice to have a window in my office when I didn't before, but it's nothing fancy.'

Now meeting ADA standards, the remodeled building triples the amount of usable space to 6,200 square feet by moving equipment to new outdoor sheds. A full kitchen is a favorite new feature among district staff, while for the public, a spacious boardroom replaces a space that will now be used for files and meetings of 10 or fewer people.

Bradley was proud that the district managed to save up for more than three years to pay for the renovation entirely in cash. He expects that district debt will be paid off in 2014 on a new reservoir and installation of sand filtration at a treatment facility financed by a consortium of North Clackamas water districts.

Leonard Waldemar said he joined the water district's board of directors a decade ago after the 'Don't flush our assets' campaign to oppose Clackamas County's failed proposal to consolidate sewer districts through the 'Clearwater' effort. Waldemar noted that district staff also suffered through no heat or air conditioning during the first phase of remodeling last year, but that was an example of the sacrifice he's seen the Oak Lodge districts make for the sake of efficiency over the years.

On Aug. 10, directors voted 3-2 to raise the bimonthly base water rate from $10.11 by $8.65 a month. OLWD customer service representative Mysty Dionne said the increase was due to PGE bills, not the new building.

Related projects

The Oak Lodge Sanitary District, formed separately from OLWD in 1956, is also working on a major rebuild.

OLSD's old plant experienced an interruption of chorine disinfection July 13-14 that discharged about a million gallons of otherwise treated sewage into the Willamette River. Investigation is continuing into what OLSD General Manager J. Michael Read suspects was a failure of the flow meter to provide chlorine dosage information and, in the meantime, warning signs were posted at nearby boat ramps and River Villa Park.

On Nov. 3, 2009, 85 percent of voters authorized OLSD to issue $44 million in general obligation bonds to rebuild its wastewater treatment plant. Construction began last summer and will continue through 2013.

Meanwhile, Clackamas County finished its largest sewer project this year. The grand opening of the $85-million expansion of the Tri-City sewage treatment plant in Oregon City took place Thursday, Aug. 4.