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Water partnership looks to the future

Roger HennaginThe Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership is the most cost-effective way for Lake Oswego to solve serious water supply problems. It is crucial for the health, safety and vitality of Lake Oswego. Despite this, the partnership has become an issue in the current city council race. Several key facts are lost in the rhetoric.

In 2006, Lake Oswego realized it had several problems with its water system:Sally Moncrieff

1. The treatment plant and the water intake were approaching 50 years old, the end of their expected lives. The system was experiencing an increasing number of equipment failures. Our water system was worn out and in need of reinvestment.

2. Lake Oswego owns water rights on the Clackamas River allowing it to withdraw up to 38 mgd of water. Due to a recent change in state law, Lake Oswego stood to lose the rights to any withdrawals above 16 mgd unless it could prove that it was going to use those rights.

3. The existing 1968 water system was built to deliver 16 million gallons of fresh water per day. In 1968, Lake Oswego’s peak daily demand for water was far below 16 mgd, yet city leaders built for the future. They scaled the system to meet expected future demands. Now is the time to prepare for the next 50 years.Craig Prosser

In order to ensure adequate and safe water into the future, Lake Oswego needed to look at how best to upgrade its water system at the lowest possible cost to water users.

A preliminary analysis in 2007 showed that a partnership between Tigard and Lake Oswego could build a water system that would meet both communities' needs and would be cheaper for each partner than if each community tried to build its own system. The 2007 analysis contained preliminary cost estimates for the project in 2006 dollars. Costs have increased due to several factors:

1. Panels of national water experts and citizen advisers recommended the use of ozone treatment of the water in our new treatment plant. Ozone provides the highest level of treatment available and removes carcinogens caused by personal care products and pharmaceuticals.

2. As the system design progressed, we discovered that existing parts of the system we thought could be re-used or remodeled must be replaced. This is something that Lake Oswego would have had to address on its own were it not for the water partnership.

3. Geological studies have shown that soils underneath the water treatment plant will liquefy during a major earthquake. The new plant will be significantly upgraded from the current plant to ensure that it will survive a major event.

This is an expensive project. It was also expensive for Lake Oswego of the 1960s. The days of big federal grants for such projects are over. Now we must rely solely on our own resources. The water partnership, which shares the costs between Lake Oswego and Tigard, is crucial to meet our joint goals.

Provision of safe, clean and abundant water is one of the most basic services offered by cities. We cannot afford to ignore the condition of our current system. Nor can we fail to provide a system that will meet our needs and those of our children and grandchildren into the future.

Sally Moncrieff, Lake Oswego, is a current Lake Oswego city councilor; Craig Prosser, Lake Oswego, was a Lake Oswego city councilor from 1995 to 2000, is a former Tigard city manager, is a member of the Lake Oswego Budget Committee and represents Clackamas County (District 7) on the TriMet Board of Directors; and Roger Hennagin, Lake Oswego, is an attorney and was a Lake Oswego city councilor from 2006-10.



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