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Tualatin says 'yes' to water resolution with Portland

Council approves amendment to agreement after 2 years of mediation.


This story has been updated from its original version.

After more than two years of mediation over disputed details in a water supply agreement, the ball is in Portland's court.

The Tualatin City Council joined the Tualatin Valley Water District Monday in approving an amendment that aims to iron out disagreements between the Portland Water Bureau and the two wholesale customers of Bull Run water. The district board voted last September to accept an amendment similar to the negotiated text Tualatin councilors approved.

Back in April 2013, Portland responded to Tualatin's request for a supply of interruptible water during the peak summer months by saying it would only provide the water under a new payment structure and terms limiting its usage. Tualatin — joined by the Tualatin Valley Water District, which serves parts of the Beaverton area — and Portland have been at loggerheads over the summer interruptible water since, with a mediation process beginning later that year.

Under the amendment, Tualatin will be able to purchase an interruptible supply of water at a reduced rate, while Portland will have the guarantees it is seeking that Tualatin will be paying a consistent amount to purchase water, explained Jerry Postema, Tualatin's public works director.

“The good part about this is it helps us plan for the next 10 and 20 years as we continue to look to Portland as our water source,” he said.

Asked whether the agreement will have any effect on customers' water bills in Tualatin, Postema said it won't.

“They will not see a difference,” he said.

The Tualatin City Council was unanimous Monday night in approving the amendment.

“The only decision that we have to make is to approve this,” said Councilor Ed Truax. “It's not just us, and this goes a long way toward solving what became a very significant disagreement.”

The amendment now goes to the Portland City Council for its approval. Jaymee Cuti, a spokeswoman for the Portland Water Bureau, said the amendment will be voted on at the council's March 2 meeting.

"Regarding the agreement itself, the three parties worked together over the past two years to resolve the issue," she told The Times in an email. "The amendment allows for the parties to jointly revisit the agreement if there are concerns any time after the initial break-in period of two summer seasons.

The water contract between Portland and Tualatin is set to automatically renew for five years this summer, unless one of the cities gives notice to the contrary by June 30. Postema said he expects it will be renewed.

Neighboring Tigard, meanwhile, is in the process of switching from Portland's water supply to getting its water from the Clackamas River through an agreement with Lake Oswego.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new information from a Portland Water Bureau spokeswoman.