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Time is now to invest in West Linn water

I agree water is necessary and something our city council should address this year. The chance of a major seismic event should make our city leaders think of ways to ensure our city is protected from future water shortages. 

Instead of addressing our needs, this city council has allowed LOT (Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership) to site their new major industrial water plant in the middle of a seismic red zone in a residential neighborhood. No alternative site analysis was done, at least one written down, and no other sites were given serious consideration. 

Our own planning commission studied this proposal extensively and thought it was not a good idea, voting seven to zero turning down the proposal. Our city council had all of their reservations erased by the promise of a one-time payment by LOT, which has yet to be received. 

All of the benefits Mayor John Kovash claims we are getting stem from the updated intertie agreement that LOT has proposed. This water sharing agreement is less favorable to West Linn than the existing one and does not guarantee West Linn any water in an emergency unless LOT feels generous. The agreement as currently written only allows West Linn up to 6 million gallons per day if LOT feels it is available. In a major emergency I doubt LOT will have a surplus. 

In previous meetings I have attended it was made clear that this is the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Plant and West Linn is not their prime concern. West Linn needs to upgrade our own facilities and not have to rely on the generosity of other cities.  

Mayor Kovash has repeatedly mentioned how vulnerable our water supply is to an earthquake in part because our main source is located under the I-205 bridge, “dangling under the bridge.” What he didn’t mention is that the bridge has been extensively modified to withstand earthquakes, first in 2001 and then another 7 million dollars was spent in 2009 to fix new concerns. The pipe under the bridge was designed to move in the event of an earthquake and if it does rupture there is a walkway underneath it to allow easy access to repair it. If LOT’s pipe breaks (it is totally unsupported) major and likely catastrophic damage will occur before it can be dug up and accessed for repairs. Instead of building new police stations and now possibly a swimming pool, our city needs to invest in our water infrastructure and develop on own long-term water solutions.

Lamont King is a West Linn resident.




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