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Tigard to end water contract with city of Portland

TIGARD - The City Council is expected to approve a notice next week notifying the city of Portland that it will stop purchasing its water in 2016.

The City Council discussed the contract at a workshop meeting Tuesday night.

The water partnership with Lake Oswego is proceeding on schedule said Dennis Koellermeier, the city's public works director, with construction on the project expected to begin in 2013.

Koellermeier said that the timeline does allow for some delays should they occur, but that so far the project is proceeding 'somewhere between aggressive and comfortable.'

Notice of the city's intent to let its Portland contract run out must be made on July 1, exactly five years before the contract expires.

If notice is not given on July 1, the city's contract will be extended another year, until 2017, at the cost of about $3.9 million for water the city won't need.

The water partnership affects residents within the Tigard Water Service Area - which includes Durham, King City, the Bull Mountain area and most of Tigard south of Highway 217.

For years Portland has been the city's main source of water, but the notification will allow Tigard to end its contract with the Rose City just in time for the Tigard-Lake Owego Water Partnership to begin extracting water from the Clackamas River, a project that has been in the works since 2008.

The $230 million partnership with Lake Oswego is expected to cost the city about $123 million and will give the city rights to water for the first time in its history.

In the past, the city has relied on other cities for its water, purchasing most of its water from the city of Portland, but Portland's rates are expected to rise significantly in the next few years, and Tigard currently doesn't get enough water from Portland to serve its residents on peak usage days.

Officials say they hope the partnership will feed long-term water demand for both Tigard and Lake Oswego, nearly doubling the water drawn from the Clackamas River under Lake Oswego's current water rights.

In November, the city approved an aggressive raise in water rates, raising the average monthly water bill from about $30 to $40 to help pay for the project. The bill is expected to rise to about $60 by the time the new water system is completed.

The Lake Oswego partnership will upgrade and expand a water treatment plant in West Linn, build a new intake facility along the Clackamas River, upsize pipes, build a new reservoir in Lake Oswego and replace a Tigard pump station.

The new system is expected to be up and running by 2016, the same year that the city's contract with Portland is set to expire.

The city will likely negotiate a replacement contract with Portland to use the city as a backup water source if the new system isn't completed on time, Koellermeier said.