LO-Tigard water plant expansion gains steam

by: VERN UYETAKE - Excavation has started at the Lake Oswego water treatment plant, which is located in West Linn, to make room for an expansion.The dump trucks have arrived in West Linn, making trips back and forth along Highway 43 to the Lake Oswego water treatment plant, which sits in a quiet neighborhood in the Robinwood area. It’s just one sign and one step in a 28-month project.

With a tight timeline and many components all moving in an orchestrated plan, the Lake Oswego-Tigard (LOT) Water Partnership treatment plant project is plowing along.

Lake Oswego has operated a water treatment plant at 4260 Kenthorpe Way since 1968. In cooperation with the city of Tigard, Lake Oswego is expanding the plant and running a new pipeline to address the future water needs of both cities.

The plant, which will hold up to 2 million stored gallons of water underground and handle up to 38 million gallons each day, also serves as an emergency backup water supply for West Linn.

Along with a new plant, the project involves the installation of a 4-foot-diameter pipeline from the Clackamas River through West Linn and into Lake Oswego. The pipeline, which will be broken into four construction phases, will extend 1.9 miles in West Linn, crossing through both residential and commercial areas.

With activity planned in Gladstone, West Linn, Lake Oswego and Tigard, if one component gets off track, others could be derailed.

Construction started this summer in Gladstone at the river intake pump station, which is located along the southerly bank of the Clackamas River. There officials built a coffer dam, which will keep water out, for construction of a pump station.

Last week, the real work started at the plant. Excavation is being done on the west end of the site to make room for trailers for general contractors and subcontractors.

Crews are also starting the excavation of the clearwell and demolition of a shed. The old clearwell (a reservoir for storing filtered water) is being dug down to 20 feet then filled back up with a couple feet of gravel.

Residents in the neighborhood were long ago concerned about the noise stemming from the trucks and construction. Trucks enter the site along Mapleton and exit on Kenthorpe, making roundtrips all VERN UYETAKE - The noise and vibrations from the filling of dump trucks at the Lake Oswego water treatment plant are concerns of neighbors in West Linn.

In response, LOT has set up vibration monitors in two houses at the west end of the plant, and so far the results fall “far below” a level that could cause damage to a home, according to LOT Communications Director Jane Heisler.

LOT is also offering home inspections to surrounding houses to establish a baseline of comparison in case a resident’s home may suffer damage. Heisler said three to four people have already expressed interest in the inspection and that was before the official letter offering the service was sent.

Nearby residents are also concerned about the noise, most recently the sound of the backup beepers on the large trucks. According to Joel Komarek, project director, though the state requires them, they are testing out different beepers in hopes of finding one that is less audible to nearby properties.

The noise will continue within the next four to six weeks with the installation of about 1,000 reinforced pilings, separated by about 7 to 8 feet, under the new treatment plant. The pilings are needed because the water plant sits in a liquefaction zone; just 15 feet below the surface, the soil turns into a runny, muddy slew that resembles unset pudding. About 50 feet below that, the soil turns into a hard VERN UYETAKE - A wheel wash set up where dump trucks exit the water treatment plant construction site helps keep dirt off of city streets.

The pilings will help secure the facility in case of natural disaster.

LOT is also currently working with West Linn staff to coordinate the replacement of old, brittle water lines along Mapleton Drive and Kenthorpe Way. Though West Linn will be designing and replacing the pipe itself, LOT will share in the cost of the upgrades, according to Komarek. That work will start in December and should be finished by February. However, the road will be ripped up again later when LOT is ready to install its pipeline.

In Lake Oswego, this week a preconstruction conference meeting was held for the pipeline from Fifth Street near the north side of Oswego Lake to the Waluga Reservoir. That work should start in early November.

Heisler said LOT staff will be meeting with neighbors along the alignment to work with them during the project.

In February, the installation of the 4-foot-diameter pipeline will begin in West Linn. The pipe will run from the exit point near Mary S. Young State Park to the water plant and then along Highway 43 into Lake Oswego. Over the course of just more than a year, between 50 and 100 feet of pipe will be installed a day working its way into Lake Oswego.

Heisler said she is currently working with residents along the route to determine those with special needs who may need extra attention for accessing their homes.

Also, in January, horizontal directional drilling will be used to install the pipeline under the Willamette River from Gladstone to West Linn, exiting near Mary S. Young State Park. This section will take 12 months to complete.

Though there is a lot of work going on, there are issues still unresolved revolving around settlements, appeals and agreements.

Although LOT has initiated the project, four appeals were filed in attempt to stop the projects.

WaterWatch, a river conservation group, filed an appeal, now at the state court of appeals, challenging Lake Oswego’s use of its full water rights of 38 million gallons of water a day from the Clackamas River. The appeal is set for oral arguments on Nov. 15. by: VERN UYETAKE - Construction is underway at the water treatment plant in West Linn that Lake Oswego and Tigard are expanding.

A group of West Linn residents also has filed three appeals to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals alleging procedural and substantive errors in the city of West Linn’s process. The appeals were consolidated for review and will now be before LUBA for oral arguments Thursday in Salem. The board should then make a decision within two weeks as to whether the process was flawed.

There are several options for LUBA. It could uphold the city council’s decision, overrule the decision, remand the decision back to the city council for further action, dismiss the case or transfer the appeal to circuit court.

There are also funds that have not been delivered.

As for the $5 million promised to West Linn from Lake Oswego as a condition of approval for the projects, that money is still in limbo. According to Komarek, West Linn and Lake Oswego have to approve an intergovernmental agreement, which is currently in draft form, that establishes the terms of payment. The agreement needs to go before both city councils for ratification.

Also, as part of the agreement, West Linn must issue a permit to Lake Oswego to work in the right of way for the pipeline placement. This should take place near the beginning of 2014.

As another stipulation for approval, LOT must offer $10,000 to the Robinwood Station community center, which is close to the facility. Those funds are still pending because the Friends of the Robinwood Station first need to submit an application for development, according to Komarek.

Then, there is the settlement money owed to 32 defendants in the Robinwood neighborhood over the battle to remove neighborhood covenants and restrictions on four properties LOT owns adjacent to the plant.

The residents are owed $6,000 each. Those payments hinge on the resolution of the LUBA appeal, according to Heisler. The Lake Oswego City Council approved the settlement in August.

In the meantime, LOT officials continue to hold neighborhood meetings with the contractor near the West Linn site twice a month, have established a hotline (503-697-6502) and continue to meet with residents and businesses in all affected cities.

For more information about the project, visit by: VERN UYETAKE - Dump trucks enter the water treatment plant on Mapleton Drive in West Linn and exit on Kenthorpe Way.

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