Tigard, Lake Oswego continue water plan talks

Mayor Craig Dirksen says the two councils will meet 'sooner than later' to discuss the issue further

TIGARD - Tigard and Lake Oswego are delving deeper into the feasibility of utilizing a joint water-supply system and trying to speed up the process to reach a decision.

With some local citizens opposed to drawing water from the Willamette River - voters would have to approve any proposal to use that option - Tigard has been searching for several years for a partner with whom to develop a cost-efficient, safe water supply.

The city has been pursuing a partnership with the Joint Water Commission to the west, which wants to build a higher dam on Hagg Lake, but Tigard is looking east as well.

In March 2006, Tigard and Lake Oswego entered into an intergovernmental agreement to pursue the idea of Tigard using some of Lake Oswego's water rights on the Clackamas River in return for Tigard funding improvements to Lake Oswego's water-supply system, which is rapidly approaching capacity.

Carollo Engineers was originally retained as the consultant for the project, and recently the two city councils approved an amendment to the agreement for additional work to be done.

The new work includes providing more information on Tigard's water-supply options, on Clackamas River water rights, on implementing a public outreach plan, on developing a rate-impact forecast for Tigard and on the potential effects of water-conservation strategies.

Tigard's share of the additional part of the study will cost $62,619, which will come from the city's Water Fund, and Lake Oswego will pay $63,531 more, with the total amount of the consulting contract now at $350,000.

Mark Knudson with Carollo Engineers told the Tigard City Council last month that the city must make a decision on its permanent water source by the end of this year.

The Lake Oswego option remains the most cost efficient way for Tigard to go, but the Lake Oswego council has said that it was not ready to discuss the issue until much later in the year.

However, officials from both cities recently talked about the issue, and the pace is picking up to schedule a joint meeting sooner than late fall or early winter, according to Tigard Mayor Craig Dirksen.

'In a word, 'yes,' we are moving forward,' he said. 'I expressed my concerns to (Lake Oswego Mayor) Judie Hammerstad that it wouldn't really work for us to wait that long. We heard back that they need more time to evaluate the data, but they are willing to move forward sooner than later.

'We are still working on the feasibility study, because as city councils make political decisions, we want to make sure the right technical decisions are made too. The bottom line is that the potentiality (of working together) is still alive.'

The Tigard council agreed in mid-March to re-evaluate the issue at a future meeting this spring.