Learning Tree students dig into unique civics lesson

by: TIMES PHOTO: GEOFF PURSINGER - Preschool students from Learning Treet Schools on Southwest Milton Court help break ground at the new Bonita Pump Station next door to their school. The pump station is the backbone of the citys new water system, which is expected to open in 2016.Preschool students at Tigard’s Learning Tree day school on Southwest Milton Court got a crash course in civics last Thursday, with the groundbreaking of a new water pump station next to their school.

Preschoolers grabbed shovels and helped dig during a groundbreaking ceremony of the Bonita Road Pump Station, a key piece in Tigard’s currently-under-construction water partnership with Lake Oswego.

The new pump station will become the backbone of the project, city officials said.

“We have pump stations all over Tigard that help get water throughout the city, but this one is special,” said City Councilor Jason Snider. “The Bonita Road Pump Station is the key to our new water system, a system that will be one of the city’s most valuable assets.”

The city has been working with Lake Oswego since 2008 to build a new joint water system for the two cities.

Construction is expected to wrap up in 2016, when the city switches from purchasing water from Portland to the joint partnership with Lake Oswego to draw water from the Clackamas River.

The project includes a new river intake facility in Gladstone, an expanded treatment plant in West Linn and more than 50,000 feet of pipe in between.

It’s the largest public works project in the city’s history, but Water Partnership Project Director Dennis Koellermeier said the project — and the pump station — will be vital to the city’s future.

“Water is a basic need for everyone in the community,” he said. “Firefighters wouldn’t be able to do their job if this pump station doesn’t work. Imagine we’ve had an earthquake and things are broken, we will have water.”

The pump station won’t need major upgrades for 75 years, Koellermeier said.

Crews began work on the pump station last week. It’s expected to finish construction next year, Koellermeier said.

When the project is completed, Snider said the Learning Tree school will provide an art project for the pump station.

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