Banks makes plans to address water shortage
The City of Banks is in the midst of developing a plan to increase the city's water supply, after issuing a moratorium in December — putting a halt on any new development until officials can come up with a sufficient plan that will increase water supply long-term.
City staff and the city engineer have just 60 days to come up with a "Water System Correction Program" on paper from the date the moratorium was enacted on Dec. 12, and with about half of that time elapsed, they shared their progress during Tuesday's Banks City Council meeting on Jan. 8.
"We are working on, right now, the Commerce Street waterline (looping) project — that's going into construction around March 1," said city engineer Robert Peacock during Tuesday's meeting. "We have a funding application in for the Park and Woodman street waterline (looping and) replacements — that's a known location of water loss — so if we can get that project funded, that will move into design shortly."
Replacement of the city's main transmission line down Sellers Road is in the design phase, as well as the Cedar Canyon Road water line replacement.
Leaks in the city's 60-year-old water mains running down Sellers and Cedar Canyon roads are mostly to blame for the shortage, Banks City Manager Jolynn Becker said. An estimated 1 million gallons of water are lost per month somewhere between the water springs and the city's water tanks due to the leaks.
Next month, the Banks City Council will vote to amend the city's capital improvements project list, adding several of these projects, and others, in order to make them eligible for grants, Becker added, which will help to speed up the process.
While some projects are already underway, and more will begin soon, the main transmission line replacement won't be completed until 2020. In the meantime, the city is seeking out potential new water sources, and it has implemented a water conservation plan that affects Banks residents and businesses.
"From 2014 to 2016 — and really ongoing — we have pursued a pretty aggressive leak-repair program and we have made quite a bit of progress," Peacock said. "We have prepared a water conservation ordinance that will push us towards requiring new construction to have ultra-efficient water appliances. … We have got some water efficiency landscape standards that are also in preparation that will be part of public works design standards."
The updates to the city's water conservation plan, which go into effect Friday, Jan. 11, include a new set of rules for residents, such as:
n Lawn or land irrigation outside of the declared "irrigation season" from May 1 to Sept. 30 is prohibited.
n Properties with even-ending addresses must water on even days, and odd-ending addresses on odd days.
n All irrigation is prohibited on the 31st day of each month, when applicable.
n Excessive water flow onto a driveway, public street, sidewalk or off of a person's property is prohibited.
The moratorium lasts for six months, and at the end of those six months, the city will monitor its progress and can then opt to renew it for another six months, which Becker said is likely to happen.
The moratorium serves as a protective barrier for the city. Without it, developers can easily come and submit development proposals the city would be obligated to approve if they meet Banks' development criteria. In Banks, developers are responsible for supplying their own infrastructure, including water supply, and developers would likely be able to prove there is just enough water left for their development, Becker said.
"As we proceed through this process and we accomplish some waterline projects to remedy some leaks, and then kind of continue along the process of securing water rights and new sources, we will be monitoring how the progress goes," Peacock said. "Our goal is, before the end of 2020 …. to see enough improvement that we are comfortable with the supply."
The City Council will vote to amend the city's capital improvements project list, as well as hear final details on the correction program, at its meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 12.
By Olivia Singer
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
Follow Olivia at @oliviasingerr
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