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Mini today paves way for a huge tomorrow

by:  VERN UYETAKE Tyler McCune uses the pilot ozone machine, which oxidizes contaminants by creating ozone in the water.  The new prototype mini plant, part of the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership, is located at the Lake Oswego water treatment plant in West Linn.

Everyone knows how big the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership is. Someday it will produce up to 32 million gallons of drinking water a day.

But the project is starting out small. Two key parts of a miniature water plant - ozonation and filtration units - were installed on Sept. 6 at the city of Lake Oswego's water treatment plant in West Linn.

The main reason the little plant is necessary is that the state requires pilot studies.

But the mini water plant will set the stage for the major plant by providing a huge amount of information that will be used to assure that the new operation provides plentiful, safe water in the most cost-effective way.

'Our operators will get invaluable experience,' said Lynn Williams, water treatment engineer for Brown and Caldwell. 'They'll learn how to deal with issues that arise when the new treatment plant comes on line.

'They'll see how these processes interact with Clackamas River water and see how best to remove taste, odors and contaminants.'

The mini plant will treat 250,000 gallons of water a day through March 2012. The new processes for reducing byproducts will be compared to the processes now used at the existing plant.

'We will have seven months to fully understand the water quality characteristics of three seasons,' Williams said. 'We'll have a report ready in the spring. It will allow the partnership and plant staffs to understand how the new plant will improve water quality.'

Knowledge gained will be money saved. Williams estimates the pilot project will result in the water partnership saving millions of dollars in the future.

Even before the pilot project begins, the city of Lake Oswego is working to get West Linn's Robinwood neighborhood ready for the new water treatment plant. Heading this effort is communications director Jane Heisler, who has jumped from one huge public works project (the Lake Oswego Interceptor Sewer project) to another.

'We've met with 14 families to find out what kind of neighbor the plant has been,' Heisler said. 'Everyone said that the plant has been a good neighbor.'

Residents told Heisler that water treatment plant director Kari Duncan and her staff fixed any problems right away. Heisler wants that good relationship to continue.

'We want to find what issues, fears and concerns people have,' she said. 'We wanted to hear what mitigations they wanted, and they had a lot of good ideas.'

All of these good ideas will be provided for the design workshop scheduled for December.

'The design will determine the construction sequence and assure our continued ability to deliver water while the new plant is being constructed,' Heisler said. 'This won't be like a wrecking ball. It's more like microsurgery. The sequence must be very tight.'