A 'meditation garden' at a water treatment plant? The project is part of an outreach effort to neighbors in West Linn's Robinwood area.

COURTESY OF THE LAKE OSWEGO-TIGARD WATER PARTNERSHIP - Vegetated roofs like this one, planted on top of the electrical building at the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership's water treatment plant in West Linn, are just part of a site plan that includes attractive and 'green' design elements.After four long years of construction, the end is finally in sight this summer for the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership (LOT) water plant.

To describe the atmosphere of relief at the construction site as "meditative" might be a bit much, but that time will come with some help from the LOT itself. As construction in West Linn's Robinwood neighborhood nears its projected end date in early June, the partnership — a joint endeavor between Tigard and Lake Oswego to provide a source of drinking water for both communities — is working to install a stormwater basin that will double as a "meditation garden" for residents to enjoy while passing through the site.

"During the design process and development of a 'good neighbor plan,' the designers and landscape architects were trying to incorporate something to make the site more residential and friendly," LOT spokesperson Katy Kerklaan said. "It was deemed as sort of a meditation garden and rain garden. … There will be trees and other plantings installed there, and it's open to the public, so we're encouraging neighbors to walk through and use that space."

The $250 million LOT project was designed to increase capacity to deliver drinking water from the Clackamas River to Lake Oswego and Tigard, with the help of a reconstructed treatment plant in West Linn. Construction began in 2013, shortly after the West Linn City Council voted to approve the project in the face of strong opposition from neighbors in the Robinwood area.

The 3,780-square-foot stormwater basin in the rain garden is just one of several basins and other drainage features located throughout the site, according to Kerklaan. A pedestrian path through the site will also open once construction is complete this summer.

Contractors still have several steps to complete before the rain garden is unveiled on the northeast side of the site near Kenthorpe Way.

"They've poured some of the concrete for the terraced seating, excavated a portion of the area," Kerklaan said. "But they still need to work on scouring it out, placing the specific planting medium/soils, installing the stormwater plants in the basin and plants/trees around the site."

Much further along and equally intriguing are the "garden roofs" that have been installed on top of three buildings at the site.

"They've got a flowering form of succulent, and they store water in the leaves," Kerklaan said. "They will act as wells, reducing the stormwater runoff … they're also going to be reducing temperatures, thereby reducing the heating and cooling needs and making it more efficient for those structures."

The garden roofs, according to Kerklaan, will essentially act as insulation for the buildings.

"Roofs are the site of the greatest heat loss in winter and the hottest temperatures in the summer," Kerklaan said. "The vegetative layer installed on the roof provides shade and absorbs heat from the air, which reduces the roof temperature."

The plant's electrical building is one of the three garden roof sites — the others being the finished water pump station and administration building — and the project will also take advantage of 110 solar panels.

"(The panels) have a 30 kilowatt capacity and any unused power is distributed back into PGE's grid," Kerklaan said.

By Patrick Malee
Assistant Editor, West Linn Tidings
Pamplin Media Group
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