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Water project could generate 2,100-plus jobs

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The Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership expects to provide more than 2,100 construction jobs when work begins next year, according to estimates announced this week.

“We have designed the construction phase of the project to maximize the participation of regional contractors,” said David Prock, Lake Oswego’s deputy project manager, in a news release issued Monday. “The economic benefit to Oregon is significant.”

The cities have embarked on the biggest public works project ever undertaken by either Lake Oswego or Tigard. Involving construction of six facilities in four communities, it’s estimated it will cost $249 million.

Officials with the city of Lake Oswego, the managing partner in the arrangement with Tigard, are now working through design and permitting. Construction is expected to begin next year.

Facilities include a river intake pump station on the Clackamas River, 10 miles of pipelines, an expanded and modernized drinking water treatment plant in West Linn, a new storage reservoir in Lake Oswego and a new pump station in Tigard.

Pipeline construction includes a 42-inch-diameter pipe that will carry untreated water from the Clackamas River intake underneath the Willamette River to the water treatment plant in West Linn. After filtration and treatment, new 48-inch and 24-inch pipes will carry drinking water to homes and businesses in Lake Oswego and Tigard.

To build each new facility, officials will put out nine different construction contracts for competitiv e bidding. Because of the project’s size and complexity, all general and subcontractors will be screened to ensure they have experience building comparable projects.

The exact number of construction jobs that will be created will remain unknown until contractors are hired.

However, the U.S. Conference of Mayors estimated that every $1 million invested in water infrastructure directly generates about 8.7 jobs, and that work has a ripple effect, creating additional jobs. According to this rationale, the water partnership would provide more than 2,100 jobs.

For comparison, Lake Oswego’s recently completed sewer interceptor project generated — or retained — about 1,200 construction jobs, according to the city.

“There are few actions government can take to help the construction industry more right now than funding and building public infrastructure,” said Mike Salsgiver, executive director of the Oregon-Columbia chapter of Associated General Contractors. “This effort is positive in several ways; it addresses an important community need and it helps put hundreds of people to work. Lake Oswego’s and Tigard’s citizens and leadership are to be commended for their vision and efforts in making this project a reality.”

Many of the local construction workers who will build the partnership’s drinking water facilities will likely come from the Portland metro area, officials said, including local communities such as Gladstone, Oregon City, West Linn, Tigard, Lake Oswego and the Clackamas County area. Contractor selection starts later this year and is expected to stretch over three years, with project completion set for 2016.