Replacement Washington Park reservoir project reaches milestone
The project to replace the water reservoir in Washington Park reached a milestone when the final concrete slab was poured on Monday, Dec. 7.
The new 12.4-million-gallon reservoir is expected to begin providing water to more than 360,000 west side customers in the spring.
The Portland Water Bureau marked the completion with an online celebration that included comments by some of the people most closely involved with the Washington Park Reservoirs Improvement Project. They included Patricia Schechter, wife of the late Commissioner Nick Fish, who oversaw the bureau during much of the project before passing away in January of this year.
"For me, I have a real visceral moment in my mind of when things started moving and lights started flashing and gears started grinding over there. I remember appreciating the commitment that it took for construction to be sort of out front in terms of coming out of lockdown," said Schechter, who lives in the Goose Hollow neighborhood. "I, like so many of us, was looking for moments of encouragement that things would go forward, that the city would keep promises and obligations and aspirations for all of its citizens. Thank you for that little moment when I really needed a little waking up and getting in gear again."
Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who is now in charge of the bureau, said, "It has been a pleasure to work knowing that I took part in the Water Bureau's legacy of careful stewardship of natural resources, infrastructure and public trust. May we always remember that water is essential."
The project was controversial when planning began in 2012, in part because some neighbors worried it would harm the landmark park. But Richard Turner, the Arlington Heights Neighborhood Association liaison to the project, said he was won over by the outreach for the project and now firmly believes in its value.
"I am so looking forward to the day that I can walk the park and know that I am standing on somewhere over 300 million pounds of steel, concrete, water, soil. All of the people of Portland owe you a huge thank you and gratitude that they will have safe drinking water for a very long time to come," said Turner.
The celebration was virtually hosted by Water Bureau Director Gabe Solmer and also included former Administrator Mike Stuhr, Engineering Manager Jodie Inman and Hoffman Construction Manager Cary Bubenik.
The bureau also presented Schechter with a framed photograph of Bull Run Lake, commemorating his leadership.
"I am so grateful to have been included in the milestone ceremony. Thank you for honoring Nick and our family. To witness your continued affection and respect for him helps ease our still very bruised hearts," she said.
The bureau will next begin its first fill of the reservoir on Monday, Dec. 14. It will then perform leak tests, sanitize and test the reservoir, and begin serving water from it in spring 2021.
After that, contractor Hoffman Construction will complete some earthwork and then take a two-year pause on the construction to let the soil surrounding the reservoir settle. Reflecting pools, promenades and public interpretive elements are intended to leave Washington Park better and more publicly accessible than ever before.
The former above-ground reservoir was replaced because it did not meet earthquake standards and is being replaced with a reservoir that meets seismic standards. It will provide water to more than 360,000 people on the west side of the Willamette River, including all downtown businesses and residents, 20 schools, five hospital complexes, more than 60 parks and the Oregon Zoo.
The project cost is currently estimated at $205 million, including planning, design and construction costs. To survive landslides and earthquakes, it includes heavy, six-foot-thick concrete floors and walls, six million pounds of
rebar for seismic reinforcement, 176 pilings embedded in stable bedrock to support the bottom of the reservoir and state-of-the-art compressible material that absorbs shock from earthquakes and any movement from the landslide.
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