Guarantees $5 million from LO, emergency water in perpetuity

by: TIDINGS FILE PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lake Oswego has operated a water treatment plant at 4260 Kenthorpe Way in West Linns Robinwood neighborhood since 1968.The West Linn City Council approved four agreements related to the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership projects Monday, locking in a $5 million payment from Lake Oswego for construction rights and officially moving into a new intergovernmental agreement with Lake Oswego, Tigard and the South Fork Water Board that guarantees emergency water supply “in perpetuity.”

The agreements also guaranteed additional payments from LOT, including $90,000 for the use of easements at Mary S. Young State Park and funding for concurrent water system projects within the construction area.

“This is a big step for the city of West Linn toward a secure water supply,” Mayor John Kovash said. “And it provides a lot of financial benefits to the city.”

Lake Oswego has operated a water treatment plant at 4260 Kenthorpe Way in West Linn’s Robinwood neighborhood since 1968. In February, citing many of the future benefits that were set in stone Monday, the city council approved two conditional use permits that would allow LOT to rebuild and expand its current water treatment facility in West Linn and install a larger pipeline.

The plant, which will hold up to 2 million stored gallons of water underground and handle up to 38 million gallons each day, also serves as an emergency backup water supply for West Linn.

The 4-foot diameter pipeline, which will be broken into four construction phases, will extend 1.9 miles in West Linn, crossing though both residential and commercial areas.

Based on the new intergovernmental agreement, LOT must provide West Linn with 4 million gallons of water per day through 2041 — a condition that cannot be terminated without consent from all parties. After 2041, LOT is still required to provide water to West Linn in an emergency, but the exact amount is unspecified.


“In an emergency situation, there’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll get the water,” Kovash said. “And that’s the key.”

Yet the intertie agreement did not pass with unanimous support; councilors Jenni Tan and Thomas Frank voted no, citing discomfort with how water would be supplied after 2041.

“I would like to have seen that guarantee of 4 million (gallons per day) past 2041,” Tan said. “I know if you forecast things, you can always know that’s a known quantity and forecast around that.”

“Within our conditions of approval, we have fought for and received an intertie agreement into perpetuity,” Frank said. “I’m afraid with it limited to 2041, we may not have an agreement into perpetuity.”

In response, City Manager Chris Jordan said the deal was actually better than the city had originally hoped for.

“In our view, 4 million gallons per day until 2041 is a bonus beyond ‘in perpetuity,’” Jordan said. “Beyond whatever is available, we get 4 million gallons.”

“The intertie is to give us emergency water,” Kovash said. “The important thing is not that we have 4 million gallons, it’s that we have emergency water if we have an emergency, or pipe damage or do work on our water systems.”

Councilor Jody Carson also supported the agreement, and added that it was difficult to forecast how much water would be available past 2041.

“We may be providing Lake Oswego with water in 2041,” Carson said. “You can’t predict that far ahead.”

On the other three agreements, the council was unanimous in its support. The “cooperative agreement for water system improvements” requires that LOT pay for 80 percent of the pipe replacements on Mapleton Drive and the full cost of re-paving Mapleton Drive and Kenthorpe Way, while the $90,000 allotted under the Mary S. Young State Park agreement will fund six public projects.

The $5 million from the franchise agreement with Lake Oswego for the pipeline, meanwhile, will be used to fund the upcoming Bolton Reservoir project.

“This puts into legal documents the guarantee that we get the $5 million we need for our water system and access to a regional water supply,” Kovash said. “And we get a lot of improvements to our pipes and streets.”

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