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Water treatment plan is a community benefit

I am a drinking water professional of 33 years and a past member of the utility advisory board for West Linn during the water master planning process. I pay property taxes in the cities of Oregon City, West Linn and Lake Oswego. I am also a public works manager in Tigard, and have worked with the project team for the Lake Oswego-Tigard water treatment plant upgrades. My residence is in West Linn, and my wife and I live in the Robinwood neighborhood. This makes me uniquely aware of drinking water issues in all of these neighboring cities.

West Linn City Council has the opportunity to plan for a responsible water future by voting “yes” on the conditional land use for the LO-Tigard water treatment plant permits. Serving on the UAB made me aware of various problems within West Linn’s water system, especially the lack of adequate storage capacity. Under the adopted water master plan, West Linn is relying on the capacity of the LO-Tigard water treatment plant to meet its emergency water needs.

With undersized storage, inadequate redundancy in supply piping and continued deferred system maintenance, West Linn needs to provide adequate water for peak demand periods and firefighting. This is especially true should there be a disruption of water supply from its water treatment plant in Oregon City. While West Linn and Lake Oswego have relied on each other during past water supply disruptions over the last 10 years, West Linn’s limited system storage allows only hours of emergency water supply during summer conditions. The combined system storage of Lake Oswego and Tigard is more than 50 million gallons. West Linn has about 6 million gallons of storage.

Our community leaders made a choice to slow growth by limiting access to water storage decades ago. By purposely limiting the size of water storage, we must now rely on our neighboring cities to provide emergency supply. Currently there are three options West Linn can take to reduce its risk during water supply outages. We can construct millions more gallons in water storage. Secondly, we can build a redundant large-capacity pipeline crossing the Willamette River. Preferably this pipeline would be crossing under the river instead of attached to a bridge. Or, we can continue to depend on our neighbors Lake Oswego and Tigard to provide emergency water via their water treatment plant in West Linn. To ensure this emergency water supply is adequate at all times, we need to support the upgrading of the water treatment plant capacity.

The UAB members chose to support the water treatment plant upgrades and made this recommendation to council in 2008. This recommendation has no financial cost to West Linn. The project team for LO-Tigard water treatment plant has taken every opportunity to discuss and listen to neighbors regarding these upgrades. The team has taken important steps to resolve or mitigate neighbors’ concerns regarding plant operation and construction. This project provides direct and indirect benefits to those living in Oregon City, West Linn, Lake Oswego and Tigard.

West Linn City Council needs to make an informed choice. Is council concerned about West Linn’s emergency water supply vulnerabilities? Does the LO-Tigard water treatment plant upgrade help ensure that West Linn has emergency water supply during outages? Is this land use request a direct community benefit to West Linn based on the facts?

John Goodrich is a resident of West Linn.




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