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  • 30 Aug 2014

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  • 31 Aug 2014

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Still fighting plant, pipeline

by: VERN UYETAKE - Gwen Seiben, Carl Edwards and Tom Sieben demonstrate the size of the proposed 4-foot water pipeline that will run through their neighborhood.The wheels are once again in motion for the Lake Oswego-Tigard (LOT) water treatment plant expansion and pipeline installation.

The West Linn Planning Commission conducted a two-part public hearing on the two applications Oct. 17 and 18 with a continuation for tonight, Oct. 25. West Linn residents showed up in full force, rejecting the projects with more than 45 people signing up to testify.

The water treatment plant application was put on hold in May by request of Lake Oswego so the pipeline application process could catch up and the two projects could be considered at the same time.

LOT officials initially wanted to separate the plant and pipeline applications to expedite the process and start construction on the plant expansion. But, after hearing from the planning commission and the community, LOT asked the commission to hear the two applications together.

Other reasons to suspend the hearing were to conduct further discussions with the neighborhood to address residents’ concerns and to negotiate a new intergovernmental agreement with West Linn for an emergency intertie.

Lake Oswego has operated a water treatment plant between Kenthorpe Way and Mapleton Drive in West Linn’s Robinwood neighborhood since 1968. Residents fought the plant application back in 1967 as well. In cooperation with the city of Tigard, Lake Oswego now wants to expand the plant and run a new pipeline to address the future water needs of both cities.

“Both our systems are at risk — that’s why we’re here tonight,” Dennis Koellermeier, Tigard public works director, told the planning commission, adding that the current water treatment plant is 45 years old and seismically vulnerable.

The plant, which will hold up to 2 million stored gallons of water underground and handle up to 38 million gallons each day, also serves as an emergency backup water supply for West Linn.

Along with a new plant, the project involves the installation of a pipeline from the Clackamas River through West Linn and into Lake Oswego. LOT will also replace a section of West Linn’s water line on Mapleton around the same time.

If approved, the phased expansion of the plant is expected to begin in spring 2013, and the entire project, including the pipeline, will be complete by February 2016.

West Linn residents have continually expressed concern about the plant expansion and pipeline installation. Residents testifying against the expansion cited concerns about years of disruption, reduced property values, noise, light, construction traffic, risk of flooding and burst pipes, chemicals and the appropriateness of the site.

Residents and business owners alike are concerned about traffic disruption not only on the affected residential streets, but also along Highway 43.

Because there were so many concerns about misconceptions and miscommunications occurring, Lake Oswego agreed to pay a mediator chosen by the city of West Linn to conduct neighborhood meetings over the course of the summer. Those meetings were meant to identify further mitigations that would make the projects more palatable for residents. However, both sides agree the meetings were not productive.

Plant revisions

Since last spring, LOT has refined its design of the proposed water treatment plant and has made some modifications.

The plant now has a smaller footprint (about 20 percent in reduction) and the original underground storage was reduced from 3 million gallons to 2 million gallons. LOT officials say costs drove the changes to the plan, as estimates came in higher than expected. The smaller storage tank will reduce the number of truck trips during construction.

However, those changes are not enough to appease neighbors, who are concerned with the construction process, emergency vehicle access, the number of construction vehicles on their streets, loss of water, safe pedestrian passage and the blocking of their driveways.

Residents repeatedly cited the figure of 50,000 added vehicle trips during the length of construction.

To reduce the number of vehicle trips on the residential roads, LOT has proposed to bus in workers, reducing about 150 anticipated trips each day. During peak construction, Mapleton Drive will see one vehicle more than usual every six minutes, according to LOT officials. Of those vehicles, more than half will be pickup trucks or smaller vehicles, not large construction trucks.

Residents also questioned the stability of the soil in case of an earthquake. The plant will have 1,000 pilings installed under the building for added protection.

Though LOT pointed out the plant is smaller and the site has more landscaping, trees and green space than mandated, some residents still objected to the plan.

“Lake Oswego has built a pyramid of propaganda in an attempt to bamboozle us,” said Dave Froode, who lives on Nixon Avenue. “Would Lake Oswego allow West Linn to build a landfill in Lake Oswego? Lake Oswego has lost its moral compass.”

Lamont King, speaking on behalf of the Robinwood Neighborhood Association, said his members signed the petition opposing the water treatment plant project back in 1967. He referred to the plant as an old injury: “It still bothers you, but you don’t complain about it because you are used to it. There are still issues there.”

Mapleton Drive resident Julie Blake called Lake Oswego a bully.

“We are a residential community with lives that need to be lived every day,” she said.

Pipeline

LOT will need to install a new 4-foot-diameter pipeline from its intake from the Clackamas River, through Gladstone, under the Willamette River, coming up in a state-owned parcel just north of Mary S. Young State Park. The pipe will then run along Mapletonby: LORI HALL - Steve Hopkins testifies before the planning commission behind a cutout of a 4-foot-diameter circle representing the proposed pipeline. Drive to the water treatment plant. It will then carry treated water along Mapleton Drive to Highway 43 and into Lake Oswego. The pipeline will extend 1.9 miles in West Linn, crossing though both residential and commercial areas.

To get under the river, LOT will use horizontal directional drilling 65 feet below ground. Where the pipe emerges in West Linn, LOT will employ a 7-foot open trench system to bury the pipe. The pipeline will affect wetlands, streams and riparian corridors, which all must be mitigated by LOT. Currently, LOT has an agreement with the state for the pipeline and mitigation, but no official approval has been made.

Perhaps the most disruptive and noisy aspect of the project is the drilling of the pipe under the river. The 7,700-square-foot staging area and all the drilling will be conducted in the state-owned parcel near the park in West Linn. During the height of pulling the pipe through the borehole under the river, the process has be conducted in one continuous phase.

To mitigate noise, a 16-foot attenuating wall will surround the staging area. However, residents who live higher up are still concerned with the traveling sound. Sound-dampening blankets will also be placed around construction equipment.

From there, the pipeline will be a moving project, advancing about 150 feet a day toward Lake Oswego.

Mapleton residents are concerned about the noise, safety and access to their homes while the pipeline is being installed. Construction along Mapleton is estimated at three months for the pipeline and another six weeks to replace a city water line.

Residents will be inconvenienced during construction with detours, construction noise and traffic, driveway blockages and the temporary turnoff of water.

Because most driveways along Mapleton are between 10 and 30 feet wide, residents will be blocked from parking at their homes for about one day, with parking available on the right of way on either side of the road. As part of the project, LOT is replacing a stretch of West Linn water line. When the switchover is made from the old line to the new line, residents could be without water for one work shift.

LOT will keep pedestrian and emergency vehicle access open during all phases of construction along Mapleton, though vehicles will have to detour through Nixon Avenue and Cedaroak Drive.

Construction along Highway 43 will take place at night, per Oregon Department of Transportation rules, and will last about five months. LOT anticipates that few businesses will be affected by the construction — there are only a handful that are open all night.

Glenda Waddle, representing the Robinwood Shopping Center, said the construction would be “a business killer and therefore a job killer.”

Residents at the public hearings discussed the size of the pipes, the amount of water traveling through the pipes and the potential for pipes to burst or break. Some residents said they were told the pipes were indestructible and referred to them as the “Titanic” of water pipes and “raging rivers” running under their homes.

“This pipeline is a monstrous danger to life in West Linn,” said Mapleton Drive resident Steve Hopkins. “You don’t have to get sucked into this 4-foot pipe. You don’t have to approve this nightmare.”

“If that pipe breaks, I will be in the river,” said Nathalie Christensen, who lives on Mapleton. “I hope one of you has a boat.”

Though LOT officials deny saying the pipeline would be indestructible, they do contend the design and the materials are far superior to anything in West Linn or Lake Oswego to date.

“This is as good as it gets in the pipeline world,” said Koellermeier. He added that there are at least eight other cities in the Portland metro area with pipelines similar in size.

by: SUBMITTED - During construction along Mapleton Drive, LOT must maintain a 5-foot-wide pedestrian path as well as a 12-foot-wide emergency access.

The process

LOT officials agreed the construction process will be a burden on the residents but don’t see any way around it. According to Koellermeier, status quo is not an option. Whether Lake Oswego partners with Tigard or not, the existing facility and pipeline are not sufficient to serve Lake Oswego residents. Regardless of the partnership, Koellermeier said, plant upgrades and a new pipeline are needed.

Of all of the people who testified last spring and last week, no Lake Oswego residents spoke in favor of the project in West Linn. Last week, only two people testified in favor of it — chairman of the Clackamas River Water Board Wade Hathhorn and Tualatin Valley Water District Chief Engineer Mark Knudson.

Despite all of the discussions, the meetings and the paperwork, West Linn residents expressed distrust with Lake Oswego and its intentions.

“This project will affect everyone in West Linn and will be life-altering for residents in the area,” said Kenthorpe resident Scott Gerber.

“This is the kind of landmark decision that I believe people will look back on and wonder how it was allowed to happen,” said another resident.

The planning commission will hear continued testimony at tonight’s hearing along with a rebuttal from LOT. From there, the planning commission can ask questions and deliberate. No matter the commission’s decision, it is likely the decision will be appealed to the city council, which will take up the matter in January.

“No matter what the decision (is) here, the citizens have been heard, and we will take what you say in your heartfelt testimony into account,” Planning Commissioner Holly Miller said. “Part of why the planning commission is here and willing to dedicate so many hours is so people don’t feel abandoned.”