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Water plant project needs an alternative plan

I would like to address some of the relevant issues of the Lake Oswego-Tigard water treatment plant project proposed for West Linn.

Most people can agree with the goal of cooperation to enhance regional partnerships that foster the best management of our water and other resources. The disagreement is with the “only solution” the Lake Oswego-Tigard Partnership has considered. The “only solution” is not the least cost either short term or long term, nor is it the most sustainable or environmentally sensitive.

If it does not meet these basic criteria ... who does it benefit?

It does not benefit the ratepayers in Lake Oswego or Tigard whose water bills will continue to climb to pay for this expensive solution. It does not benefit the residents of West Linn who are impacted for three years while LOT builds this ill-placed treatment plant and constructs three miles of large pipe it does not need. It certainly does not benefit the larger regional community. We all expect a higher level of accountability when it comes to our natural resources.

A “solution” that was acceptable 50 years ago, does not guarantee it is the best solution today. The simple fact that the site now requires approximately 1,000 auger cast piles to mitigate significantly unstable soils should raise the question: “Is this the best site for an $80 million dollar water treatment plant?”

By considering an alternative solution that includes a new water intake structure close to the Willamette River and a treatment plant in Lake Oswego (e.g., Foothills or the 12-acre West End Building site), the tangible and immediate benefits far outweigh any that have been identified with the current project.

The alternative solution:

n Eliminates more than three miles of 42-inch and 48-inch pipe. Instantly reducing the bottom line by several million dollars, reduces carbon emissions to create and install the pipe and significantly reduces the overall lifecycle costs, simply by having less system to monitor and maintain.

n Increases environmental stewardship of our regional water resources by reducing the stress on the Clackamas, simply by using the more abundant Willamette River just like Wilsonville and Dasani Bottling Company have done in the past few years.

n Maintains the regional partnership and intertie by simply preserving the existing 24-inch transmission line in Highway 43 that serves Lake Oswego residents all the way to Marylhurst and is already connected with West Linn’s water system.

The benefits are obvious and the choice is simple.

Jan Gerber is a resident of West Linn.



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