Water partnership useful after pipeline leak
Amid considerable pushback from residents during the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership (LOT) project in West Linn's Robinwood neighborhood — a $249 million effort to upgrade and increase capacity at the LOT water treatment plant that was completed in 2017 — "just wait and see" was the common refrain from West Linn representatives. The disruption and angst caused by the 5-plus year construction effort — which was based in West Linn but would primarily benefit Tigard and Lake Oswego — would be seen in a new light, officials felt, if and when West Linn found itself in need of a backup water supply and activated an intertie agreement with LOT.
That intertie agreement between West Linn, the South Fork Water Board (which provides West Linn's water) Lake Oswego, Tigard — in which each body agreed to provide emergency water for the other when needed — was signed in 2013 as part of the LOT project (Lake Oswego also paid West Linn a lump sum of $5 million, which was used to replace the 100-year-old Bolton Reservoir).
Specifically, the intertie — which is set to last "in perpetuity" — states that LOT will provide a minimum of 4 million gallons of water a day to West Linn when necessary.
It may not have been a dire emergency, but the intertie indeed came into play in early November when South Fork dealt with a leak in a 30-inch pipeline that supplied water to West Linn, Oregon City and a segment of the Clackamas River Water District. While many Oregon City residents were forced to limit their water use as South Fork replaced the pipeline, West Linn residents saw no interruption due to the intertie with LOT.
In this case, according to LOT Water Treatment Plant Manager Kari Duncan, West Linn needed about half that amount while the pipeline work was completed in mid-November.
"It was 2,000 gallons per minute, with the pump running from about 7 a.m. to around 10 or 11 at night," Duncan said. "At that rate, it was just shy of 2 million gallons a day."
The intertie pump station is located about a block away from the water plant, and Duncan said activating the emergency supply for West Linn is a fairly straightforward process.
"Because the intertie pump station between our water systems is well-designed and placed, for us at the water treatment plant, we simply turn up the flow," Duncan said. "We need to plan to produce more water during the days we're supplying water to West Linn, so it's a matter of turning up our pumps, making sure the staff knows that water is going to West Linn."
And this isn't the first time the intertie has been used since the plant was expanded, according to Duncan.
"There were a few days this summer and in past years with some planned and some unplanned situations where we've supplied water," Duncan said. "There have been other times in prior years when West Linn has supplied water to Lake Oswego, so it's a benefit to both communities."