The new line will allow Sherwood to receive its alotted 5 million gallons per day via the Willamette River Water Treatment Plant

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Segment 3-B of the Wilsonville-Sherwood water transmission pipeline was built through the Coffee Creek area, shown here facing south. Wilsonville recently completed the final segment in a joint water pipeline project carried out with the city of Sherwood.

The Segment 3-B project is the last half-mile of a 48-inch water transmission line that now runs from Wilsonville’s Willamette River Water Treatment Plant north to Sherwood’s Snyder Park Reservoir. The last piece of the project also includes a significant pressure-reducing vault to serve Wilsonville’s distribution network.

“This is the last segment that is needed for Sherwood to draw their full 5 million gallons per day allotment of water,” Wilsonville Capital Projects Manager Eric Mende told the Wilsonville City Council at a June 2 meeting. “Sherwood really wanted to get this built, so they agreed to front the funding for the entire project, and that included the vault.”

The project was recently completed at a final cost of $3.17 million. This is a significant sum for a small city. But it pales in comparison to estimates prepared several years ago that predicted a final price tag of some $8.5 million.

Mayor Tim Knapp questioned why those estimates proved to be so inaccurate.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The Willamette River is the source of water for Wilsonville and now Sherwood, following completion of a 48-inch transmission line linking the two cities. This photo shows a pressure-reducing vault built adjacent to Boeckman Road as part of the project. “When we budget a project, at the very beginning we try to be very conservative,” Mende answered. “I don’t have a good answer for you as to why it was so high; I do know permitting was a big concern. And that estimate was also before the (economic) downturn, and we got very good prices when we bid this out.”

City attorney Mike Kohlhoff noted that because segment 3-B runs through the Coffee Creek wetland area, there was a greater expectation of potential permitting issues involving the Division of State Lands and other entities responsible for overseeing natural resources.

While the two cities are splitting the cost of the project, Wilsonville is bearing a greater portion, largely because of the pressure-reducing vault. Mende said the final estimate is that Wilsonville will pay about 59 percent of the cost, or roughly $1.85 million; Sherwood, meanwhile, is responsible for 41.5 percent, or around $1.39 million when all is said and done.

In a further bit of good news, Mende informed councilors that Kerr Contractors also completed the transmission pipeline while spending nearly a million dollars less than the $4.14 million budgeted a year ago for the project.

“This one actually came in under budget, and it actually was on schedule, so that’s a good thing to report,” he said. “Credit for that cost performance is due in large part to a very detailed design process; it took us a little longer than we expected, and we drew on lessons learned from segments already built.”

Wilsonville’s partnership with Sherwood now will continue over the long term as the latter continues to draw Willamette River water treated in Wilsonville. In the near term, a chlorine tracer study will be conducted to determine how long that chemical is in contact with treated water before it is distributed.

In addition, the new pipeline also means the city has the ability to produce — and distribute — the full 15 million gallons of treated water per day its Willamette River Plant is able to turn out.

Underlying the June 2 discussion is the larger issue of regional water supply. A number of metro area cities under the umbrella of the Tualatin Valley Water District plan to utilize the Willamette River Water Treatment Plant for their water supplies in coming decades. A second treatment plant will need to be built adjacent to the existing facility and pipelines will need to be built to supply the various end users.

How that all plays out is up in the air at present. The so-called Willamette Water Council has been formed to provide city officials a forum to discuss these issues. Wilsonville is a member of the water council, as well as the Tualatin Valley Water District, with which the city originally built the water treatment plant over a decade ago.

“We’re very free-flow,” Kohlhoff said. “There is discussion about a lot of different alternatives. And the other part to all this is who has what (Willamette River) water rights.”

Right now, he said, Wilsonville possesses a water right equaling 20 million gallons per day. Sherwood owns rights to 5 million gallons per day; the remainder, some 130 million gallons per day, is held by the Willamette River Water Consortium, a group created by the water district to help manage these increasingly difficult issues.

“I don’t know how that’s all going to play out in the future and the needs are of the different entities,” Kohlhoff said. “To date, everyone at our meetings has been very, very positive. Everyone’s looking out for their own interests, but it’s also what you’d hope to see in exploring possible alternatives.”

It’s a complex puzzle to sort out, he added, because of the wildly different needs of the various cities involved.

“We’re very interested in making sure that as we go forward that it would be beneficial to our rate payers,” he said. “That’s a key approach to things.”

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