As we are in the midst of the “dog days” of summer — with children playing on the parks’ splash pads, residents watering their gardens and folks cooling off down by the river — I’m reminded of the vital role water has in our lives.


As many of you know, the cities of Lake Oswego and Tigard (LOT) are reconstructing their water treatment plant, which lies in the heart of the Robinwood neighborhood in West Linn. Along with the construction of a new facility, LOT will install a new waterline running from the Clackamas River through West Linn and then to Lake Oswego and Tigard. As part of the approval process for the waterline within the West Linn boundary, LOT agreed to pay a one-time $5 million franchise fee for the pipeline right of way. That $5 million payment was received in June. There was no fanfare, no oversized checks, just a simple transfer of funds. However, that payment will help secure the safety of the West Linn water system.

Our Bolton Reservoir, which sits on Skyline Drive near West Linn High School, is now 101 years old. It was built in a time when there were no other homes nearby and the town was just 1,500 people. Now, 25,000 people call West Linn home and we are still relying on a century-old water reservoir that is too small. Replacement of this reservoir has been in the city “books” since the 1980s, however, funding has never been made available.

It is estimated that replacing the 2.5-million-gallon reservoir with a 4-million-gallon one that will serve the build-out of the city will cost $9 million. That $5 million payment will go a long way toward this project. The city has also identified $2 million in the water fund balance and is anticipating $2 million in water system development charges.

Without the $5 million payment, the city would be turning to its taxpayers for funding for this important project. Also, thanks to this payment and replacement project, the city can now consider installing a much needed sidewalk/trail down Skyline Drive to the high school, improving the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists on that curvy and steep section of road.

Mike Jones lives in West Linn and is a West Linn city councilor.

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