My heart went out to the people of Charleston, W. Va., as they struggled through a water crisis CARSONcaused by a chemical spill in their river. Like West Linn, they depend on a single river for their drinking water, and thus they needed to buy bottled water or fill containers at local fire stations.

This incident points out the importance of having a secondary source of drinking water for emergencies. As a city councilor and member of the South Fork Water Board, I’ve been asked why we are bothering to update West Linn’s intertie agreement with Lake Oswego, since we already have an existing agreement with them.

My response is that there are two differences between the old and new agreements. Currently, we can receive water through Lake Oswego in an emergency from their separate intake in the Clackamas River.

We used this emergency source for a few days last year when our intake facility was damaged during a flood.

The new agreement strengthens that ability by adding a guaranteed amount we can get from their Clackamas River source in an emergency. We are now guaranteed 4 million gallons per day for at least the next 27 years.

Second, since Lake Oswego has now joined with Tigard for the Lake Oswego-Tigard water treatment plant project, if a water emergency affects the whole Clackamas River we will be able to access emergency water from Bull Run. While this water would be limited, it would allow us to avoid the type of situation that occurred in West Virginia.

We certainly hope we never need to use either of these emergency sources, but I feel it is prudent for us to plan for unexpected events — especially when they might affect something as critical as our source for clean water.

Jody Carson is a member of the West Linn City Council and the South Fork Water Board.

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