We often take for granted our ability to turn on a kitchen faucet and have clean water flow. Fortunately, we live in a part of the world where running water is readily available. I was amazed to read recently that 2.1 billion people worldwide lack access to safely managed drinking water — this is according to the United Nations.
Here on the Westside, those who manage our water are thinking and planning ahead to secure a new source for our water supply. The Willamette Water Supply Program is a partnership between Tualatin Valley Water District and the City of Hillsboro, and will develop the mid-Willamette River at Wilsonville as an additional water supply source.
This new system will run water from Wilsonville towards Cooper Mountain in Beaverton and out to Hillsboro — more than 30 miles. It's expected to be up and flowing by 2026 and will provide an additional reliable water supply for the region. It will also help water system operators balance the water supply during times of drought or other interruptions.
It is going to offer us the opportunity to recover more quickly after a large natural disaster.
Management of the project has also been fiscally responsible as leaders look to coordinate with partners like Washington County (a public sector member of Westside Economic Alliance). When it's possible, the water supply staff have planned the pipeline to be laid or connected at the same time as other road construction projects, such as the 124 Avenue extension in the Tualatin, Sherwood, and Wilsonville area.
It would include being part of new areas of development, like in South Hillsboro. By partnering with these sites where construction is planned or already underway, residents will experience far less construction impact in their area, and it saves ratepayers money too.
Construction will peak between 2021-2024 in completing the 30 miles of seismically resilient large-diameter pipeline, reservoir tanks and water treatment plant. The estimated overall cost is expected to be $1.2 billion with most of the cost earmarked for planning, engineering, construction and real estate.
The early leadership goals and the mission statement helped guide the development of the water supply program to emphasize the importance of keeping the project local.
The individual construction projects are purposefully "bite-sized" so local contractors and talent can bid, win and successfully complete the projects. This effort has been successful thus far, with more than 90 percent of all the project funds spent in employing local firms, construction companies, and others.
According to the program's newsletter, more than 100 local businesses have provided goods and services for the program, contributing about $58.8 million to the local economy.
These local businesses include Westside Economic Alliance members, such as Angelo Planning Group, Baker Rock Resources, Cardno, CH2M, Comcast, David Evans & Associates, DKS Associates and Otak. Here are what some of these members have said about their involvement in the Willamette Water Supply Program:
Keith Peal, VP from Baker Rock stated, "We appreciate the opportunity to work on this local project. It has been well planned and will provide much-needed infrastructure for our community."
"It is exciting to work on a local project that will have a lasting impact on our region," said Frank Angelo, owner, of Angelo Planning Group.
Otak's Don Hanson — a principal planner — said, "The Willamette Water Supply Program addresses the issue of clean and safe water for generations to come. We are proud to be a local member of the team that will complete the project."
"DEA is proud to participate in the planning of the Willamette Water Supply System that will provide water to the westside for the next 100 years," said Gavin Oien, VP of David Evans & Associates.
At Westside Economic Alliance, our mission is to ensure the economic vitality of the region.
This creatively planned project will provide future water resources for economic growth, and the construction phase of it ensures business opportunities and employment for local providers in Washington County.
To learn more about the Willamette Water Supply Program, visit: OurReliableWater.org
Mike Morey is the president of the Westside
Economic Alliance Board of Directors.
He works at The Standard and can be reached at: westsidealliance.org
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.