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Water treatment plant expansion a boon to West Linn or a bust?

Council explores benefits during work session

A new partnership and an expansion of a water treatment plant may have some benefits to the city of West Linn, which is currently experiencing water woes.

Representatives from Lake Oswego, Tigard and their joint water plant partnership, LOT, joined the West Linn City Council during its Dec. 19 work session to discuss how the plant's expansion could be a boon to West Linn.

Lake Oswego has operated a water treatment plant since 1968 in the Robinwood neighborhood between Kenthorpe Way and Mapleton Drive. In cooperation with the city of Tigard, Lake Oswego wants to expand the plant and run a new pipeline to address the future water needs of both cities.

Many of the water plant's neighbors attended the work session. Neighbors have continually expressed concern about the plant expansion and the pipeline installation.

The plant, which will hold up to three million stored gallons of water underground and will handle up to 38 million gallons, also serves as an emergency backup water supply for West Linn. A new agreement will need to be made with both Lake Oswego and Tigard to continue the intertie.

Under an existing agreement with Lake Oswego, West Linn has an intertie at Old River Road and Kenthorpe Way that the city can tap into in an emergency, such as a major fire. However, with the current water supply, there may not be any extra water in an emergency during peak water-use seasons.

'It's questionable at present if we could provide you with emergency water,' Tigard Mayor Craig Dirksen said.

With LOT's new plan, Lake Oswego and Tigard could potentially provide up to six million gallons of water a day to West Linn in an emergency. This extra water could be available year-round up through 2026 - up through 2041 outside of peak seasons, according to Joel Komarek, LOT project director.

To keep the intertie and access to emergency water, West Linn will need to invest in an additional pump at the intertie, which is estimated at $100,000, according to City Manager Chris Jordan.

Lake Oswego Mayor Jack Hoffman said the water treatment plant expansion will serve both Lake Oswego and Tigard up through 2100 before needing any upgrades or expansion.

According to West Linn's master plan, the city's water system needs about $19 million of improvements over the next five years. The city stores two million gallons of water in a 100-year-old reservoir, and its supply pipe hangs from a bridge built in the 1970s.

'This allows West Linn to invest in other critical water system upgrades and focus on some of the less costly … improvements,' said Komarek.

Another way LOT sees itself helping West Linn is by incorporating some of West Linn's capital improvement projects on Mapleton and Kenthorpe into the water plant and pipeline construction.

According to Komarek, the timeline for the project includes submitting the application for the plant at the beginning of 2012 and submitting the pipeline application in April. Design and permitting is scheduling to extend into 2013, with construction from 2013 to 2015 and completion in 2016.

West Linn councilors did not have many questions or comments on the presentation, but Mayor John Kovash said he would like to have input from the city's utility advisory board and wanted more details and numbers.

Councilor Jenni Tan wanted to know how much the city would be saving by having access to the six million gallons of water a day. Jordan said staff will work on obtaining that figure.

For more information about the LOT water plant expansion, visit www.lotigardwater.org .