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Soapbox: Benefits of water partnership extend beyond city limits

Craig E. Dirksen is a Metro councilor and Tigard's former mayor.
Soon, the city of Tigard will have its own water supply. The cities of Lake Oswego and Tigard have formed a partnership to share a joint water supply and construct and operate treatment facilities to provide their residents with safe, reliable water for the foreseeable future.

Construction of the water intake on the Clackamas River and the water treatment plant have begun, with the goal of having them in operation by 2016, when Tigard’s current water contract with the city of Portland expires.By creating this partnership, both cities will realize extensive gains and savings over each city “going it alone.”

Tigard gains access to its own water supply by exercising existing water rights with Lake Oswego to the Clackamas River. This allows us to stop being just a “water customer” to the city of Portland and the accompanying supply uncertainty and lack of control over cost or quality that comes with that role. Lake Oswego, with its existing intake and water treatment system over-capacity and outdated, gains a financial partner to share the cost of a new, larger, state-of-the-art system.

Each community is saving tens of millions of dollars over the next 25 to 50 years by partnering. This reduces costs to ratepayers over the long term.While the primary purpose of the partnership is to provide water for Lake Oswego and Tigard, the linkage of two cities’ water systems has other more regional benefits.

While LO has rights and a connection to the Clackamas River, Tigard has existing interties with both Bull Run (through Portland) and the Trask River/Hagg Lake system through the Washington County Joint Water Commission. Together with Tigard’s rights to potential Willamette River water from the treatment plant in Wilsonville, this gives the partners not only access to all these different water sources in case of emergency, but also allows access by all these different agencies to all these different sources, through the new Lake Oswego/Tigard intertie pipeline.

This ensures an emergency supply from any of these four raw water sources to every water provider in the system. An additional benefit to Lake Oswego, and especially the city of West Linn, which already gets its emergency water from the partnership, is that they will gain access to Tigard’s existing, extensive system of surface reservoirs and aquifer storage in order to cope with short-term emergencies and peak demand in the summer.

Together, this unprecedented linkage of water supplies creates a new inter-connectedness that makes the entire region’s water supply more resilient.

Sharing water resources reduces uncertainty for all of us in the event of contamination of one source of supply, drought, earthquake, regulations or terrorist attack.

The partnership implements the goals of the Regional Water Providers Consortium Water Supply Master Plan (WSMP). This plan, adopted in 1996 and updated in 2004, is the result of collaboration and the expertise of 23 cities, special water service districts and Metro.

It is the region’s shared vision for smart water supply planning and environmental responsibility. Keeping costs low for residents and working together on environmental enhancement, watershed protection and disaster preparedness are smart goals that know no jurisdictional boundaries.

We all benefit from the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership’s forward-thinking approach.

Get on your soapbox

The Times offers a soapbox to stand on every week in our Opinion section. The soapbox is a guest column written by any reader on any local issue of public interest. They should be no longer than 800 words (about three double-spaced typewritten pages) and should include the signature, address and phone number of the writer. Soapboxes are due Mondays at noon and can be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




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