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Gresham's groundwater system bolstered as Bull Run Reservoir decision looms

PMG FILE PHOTO - Bull Run ReservoirGresham City Council approved a partnership with Rockwood Water People's Utility District to tap into their expertise in constructing groundwater wells — priming the pump for a potential break with the Bull Run Reservoir.

Gresham currently purchases the majority of its potable water from the city of Portland through a 20-year contract, enjoying the popular Bull Run water. During peak usage, often in the middle of summer, the water supply is bolstered by groundwater from city-owned wells.

But the Bull Run is one of the last remaining untreated public water sources in the country, and due to ongoing detections of the parasite cryptosporidium, a mandate has been made to design and construct a new treatment system. The water filtration plant is anticipated to cost between $820 million and $1.2 billion, and is scheduled to become operational in 2027.

When the plant is completed, the purchase price of Portland water is anticipated to skyrocket, and Gresham would be on the hook to contribute $100 million to construct the filtration plant.

Gresham has a decision to make, one that city leadership began mulling earlier this month. It can either enter into another 20-year term as a Portland wholesale water customer or further develop its groundwater supply infrastructure to eliminate or reduce reliance on Portland.

Regardless of that choice, Gresham wants to enhance its groundwater system, and the expertise displayed by Rockwood Water PUD led to the intergovernmental agreement. Rockwood Water currently is constructing two wells through a contract with Holt Services Inc., through a favorable bid.

Through the agreement, Rockwood will develop a third well with Holt at Kirk Park — a decision that was adopted in the Kirk Park Master Plan by Gresham leadership. Kirk Park is ideally located to maximize water production and to minimize pipeline infrastructure costs to transport water to treatment and storage infrastructure.

Gresham will fund the work and own the well production capacity upon completion.

Completing the bid through Rockwood represents significant savings based on other proposals received. The cost of the well is expected to be about $885,000, which is less than the estimated $1 million for using another company.


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