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After a pipe failure at the Willamette River Water Treatment Plant, residents were asked to limit non-essential water use.

The city of Wilsonville has eased its request for residents to limit water use following a pipe failure at the Willamette River Water Treatment Plant this past weekend, though a "soft curtailment" will remain in place through the end of the week.

The pipe failure, which took place at around 11:30 p.m. Friday, July 29, prompted the city to ask residents to curtail all non-essential water usage. Water remained safe to drink, but Wilsonville asked for people to halt outdoor irrigation, car-washing and "extensive" use of washing machines or dishwashers, among other activities.

While briefing the Wilsonville City Council on the situation during a meeting Monday, Aug. 1, Public Works Operations Manager Martin Montalvo said it was safe for residents to increase their water usage by a slight amount.

"Community members can irrigate — (but) we're asking you to minimize irrigation by watering every other day," Montalvo said. "Some (homeowners associations) water twice a day in high heat; they will cut back to once a day. Most homeowners — and we have gotten a lot of calls — will go to the every-other-day schedule."

The city itself also halted irrigation at parks and other facilities, and Montalvo said "limited irrigation" would resume at the parks this week.

"Particularly soccer fields," he said. "We have a large tournament on Saturday and we have to make sure they're in good condition."

Public facilities like City Hall won't be watered until the curtailment ends.

Montalvo referred to the pump issue as an "electrical failure." The treatment plant houses four pumps that combine for a capacity of 26.5 million gallons per day; the pump that failed accounted for 7.5 million gallons per day; and another 7.5 million-gallon pump was also in need of a new part and thus offline at the time of the failure.

According to Montalvo, the typical summer demand from the plant — which Wilsonville shares with Sherwood — is between 8 and 9 million gallons per day. Amid high temperatures in the five days leading up to the failure, demand shot up to about 10.4 million gallons per day. When the pump failed, the plant's total capacity was reduced to 11.5 million gallons per day — too low for the city to feel comfortable without imposing restrictions on customers.

The city is planning to install an additional 5 million-gallon pump at the plant in 2023, increasing the facility's margin for error if a similar event were to occur in the future.


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