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Public hearing tonight focuses on Lake Oswego-Tigard water partnership

by: VERN UYETAKE - Gwen Seiben, Carl Edwards and Tom Sieben demonstrate the size of the proposed 4-foot water pipeline that will run through their neighborhood.The wheels are once again in motion for a planned Lake Oswego-Tigard water treatment plant expansion in West Linn.

The West Linn Planning Commission conducted a two-part public hearing on the two applications Oct. 17 and 18 with a continuation for tonight (Thursday), Oct. 25. West Linn residents showed up in full force rejecting the projects, with more than 45 people signing up to testify.

The water treatment plant application was put on hold in May by request of Tigard and Lake Oswego officials so the pipeline application process could catch up and the two projects could be considered at the same time.

Lake Oswego has operated a water treatment plant in West Linn’s Robinwood neighborhood since 1968. Residents fought the plant application back in 1967 as well. In cooperation with the city of Tigard, the two cities hope to expand the plant and run a new pipeline to address the future water needs of both cities.

“Both our systems are at risk — that’s why we’re here tonight,” Dennis Koellermeier, Tigard public works director, told the planning commission, adding that the current water treatment plant is 45 years old and seismically vulnerable.

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 also involves the installation of a pipeline from the Clackamas River, through West Linn and into Lake Oswego.

If approved, the expansion of the plant is expected to begin in spring 2013, and the entire project, including the pipeline, will be complete by 2016, when Tigard’s contract for water with the city of Portland expires.

West Linn residents have continually expressed concern about the plant expansion and pipeline installation. Residents testifying against the expansion cited concerns about years of disruption, reduced property values, noise, light, construction traffic, risk of flooding and burst pipes, chemicals and the appropriateness of the site.

Residents and businesses alike are concerned about traffic disruption not only on the impacted residential streets, but also along Highway 43.

Since last spring, Tigard and Lake Oswego have refined the design of the proposed water treatment plant and made some modifications.

The plant now has a smaller footprint (about 20 percent in reduction) and the original underground storage was reduced from 3 million gallons to 2 million gallons. Water partnership officials say costs drove the changes to the plan as estimates came in higher than expected. The smaller storage tank will reduce the number of truck trips during construction.

To reduce the number of vehicle trips on the residential roads, LOT plans are to bus in workers, which will cut trips to about 150 a day.


by: LORI HALL - Steve Hopkins testifies before the planning commission behind a cutout of a 4-foot-diameter circle representing the proposed pipeline.The partnership will also need to install a new 4-foot diameter pipeline from its intake from the Clackamas River, through Gladstone, under the Willamette River, into West Linn to the water treatment plant and along Highway 43 into Lake Oswego. The pipeline will extend 1.9 miles in West Linn, crossing through both residential and commercial areas.

To get under the river, plans are to use horizontal directional drilling, running 65 feet below ground. Where the pipe emerges in West Linn, Tigard and Lake Oswego will employ a 7-foot open trench system to bury the pipe. The pipeline will affect wetlands, streams and riparian corridors, which all must be mitigated by the partnership. Currently, the two cities have an agreement with the state for pipeline and mitigation, but no official approval has been made.

Perhaps the most disruptive and noisy aspect of the project is the drilling of the pipe under the river. The 7,700-square-foot staging area and all the drilling will be conducted in the state-owned parcel near Mary S. Young park in West Linn. During the height of pulling the pipe through the borehole under the river, the process must be conducted in one continuous phase.

To mitigate noise, a 16-foot attenuating wall will surround the staging area. Sound-dampening blankets will also be placed around construction equipment.

From there, the pipeline will be a moving project, advancing about 150 feet a day toward Lake Oswego.

As part of the project, the partnership is replacing a stretch of West Linn waterline.

Construction along Highway 43 will take place at night, per Oregon Department of Transportation mandate, and will last about five months. The partnership anticipates that few businesses will be affected by the construction — there are only a handful that are open all night.

Glenda Waddle, representing the Robinwood Shopping Center, said the construction would be “a business killer and therefore a job killer.”

The process

Officials with the water partnership all agreed the construction process will be a burden on the residents, but don’t see any way around it. According to Koellermeier, status quo is not an option. Whether Lake Oswego partners with Tigard or not, the current facility and pipeline are not sufficient to serve Lake Oswego residents. Regardless of the partnership, Koellermeier said plant upgrades and a new pipeline would be needed.

The planning commission will hear continued testimony at tonight’s hearing along with a rebuttal from the water partnership. From there, the planning commission can ask questions and deliberate. No matter the commission’s decision, it is likely the decision will be appealed to the West Linn City Council, which could take up the matter in January.

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