(The following is an open letter to residents of Lake Oswego).

Dear citizens of Lake Oswego:

Are you aware that the Lake Oswego-Tigard water treatment plant is going to cost five times more than originally estimated? You will be paying for this for 30 years through dramatically increased water rates, even more than they are now.

I understand that the LOT project is looking at even more cost overruns and are going to tear up downtown to avoid the cost of boring under Oswego Lake. Don’t you think it is about time to ask whether the project engineers, Joel Komarek and Dennis Kohlmeier, are guilty of wishful thinking (or worse)?

It is clear from the initial report discussing the feasibility of this project that several egregious errors were made. The numbers in this report were given to the Carollo company by Komarek. For instance, the savings projected from tiered water rates was estimated by Komarek to be 0.5 percent per year. The real number was 36 percent the first year. Even Beverly Hills would get at least 10 percent. If he actually used real numbers, Lake Oswego would have never had to get more water. The buildout of Lake Oswego is estimated at 5 percent. With even a 20 percent savings, it would be impossible to run out of water no matter how many apartments and high-rises might be built as yards and gardens are the big water users and modern appliances use much less water and are coming on line all the time.

The reason for this estimate is clear. Without it, the project doesn’t go forward.

Let’s take a look at the cost estimates: Originally the project was supposed to cost between $55 and $65 million. It is now around $300 million.

How could they be so wrong? Tigard’s engineer has recently stated that they will have to build additional facilities using the Willamette in 2041.

It is disturbing to me and should be to you that the players that have been pushing this have so many conflicts: Tim Ramis, attorney for West Linn and Tigard, whose partner Andrew Jordan represents Slayden Construction, the prime contractor, and whose wife, (Donna) Jordan is on the Lake Oswego City Council and has been on the “oversight committee” since the beginning. The judge that granted LOT the right to abandon its agreement with neighbors of the existing plant resigned after that decision and went to work as a lawyer in LO.

There have been many other “coincidences” in this process.

At what point do the ratepayers say, “We have been taken?”

As it is now, LOT’s “experts” don’t know how they will bring the pipeline from George Rogers Park to B (Avenue). There is no clear route and many businesses, houses and condos are in the way. Good luck to those people when LOT weighs in with their attorneys.

So, ask yourselves was this mess caused by wishful thinking, bad engineering, malfeasance or a combination of all three?

Jack Norby is a resident of West Linn.

Contract Publishing

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