The City of Beaverton is now an owner in the Willamette Water Supply Program — a new, resilient water source for the community. The city will receive up to five million gallons of water per day when operational in 2026. The system, a network of pipelines, storage tanks, a state-of-the-art water filtration plant, and more, is an additional water supply for Washington County in partnership with the Tualatin Valley Water District and the City of Hillsboro. The system is designed to meet future water demand, and when complete will be one of Oregon’s most seismically-resilient water systems — built to better withstand natural disasters, protect public health and speed regional economic recovery through restoring critical services more quickly.
Work on Tualatin-Sherwood Road is sure to be a nuisance. But the payoff will last longer.
And as work continues to build a massive new pipeline system from the Willamette River in Wilsonville up to the communities of Hillsboro, Aloha, Beaverton and Tigard, sections of roadway are being dug up so pipe can be laid in the ground. (On the plus side, that water supply work is providing some of the impetus for the county to finally get to rebuilding Tualatin-Sherwood and Roy Rogers roads through Sherwood.)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is awarding two sizable loans that will be used to help pay for $1.3 billion in Willamette Water Supply System improvements.
One loan for $388 million is being awarded to the Tualatin Valley Water District, and the other for $251 million is going to the city of Hillsboro. The money will go toward construction of intake facilities, over 30 miles of pipeline, a water treatment plant and two storage reservoirs.
The program calls for the expansion of the existing municipal raw water intake facility on the Willamette River in Wilsonville, along with construction of a new water treatment plant in Sherwood. The former will be built between 2020 and 2024, while the latter is scheduled to be built between 2022 and 2025.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Oregon Department of State Lands also have approved the project’s environmental permits, while land use permitting is in progress for various elements.
“The benefits significantly reduce the rate impacts to our customers,” Tualatin Valley Water District CEO Tom Hickmann stated in a press release, “while simultaneously helping provide an additional water supply that results in protecting public health with a reliable drinking water source and fueling the economy with jobs now and in the future.”
The EPA has estimated the two WIFIA loans will save the water district an estimated $138.4 million and the city of
Hillsboro an estimated $125.2 million when compared with typical bond financing terms.
Southeast Cornelius Pass Road in Hillsboro is set to be widened in the early to mid-2020s.
While the construction project won’t break ground for about three more years, the Washington County Department of Land Use & Transportation is getting a head start on its public outreach. It has scheduled an open house for the widening project on Tuesday, Sept. 10.
Members of the public are invited to drop by to ask questions of the project team and provide input from 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 10 at R.A. Brown Middle School, located at 1505 S.E. Cornelius Pass Road.
Construction is expected to take place from 2022 to 2024. Concurrently, a 48-inch pipeline for drinking water will be laid down beneath the roadway as part of the Willamette Water Supply Program, which is building a network of water pipelines and other infrastructure to channel drinking water from the Willamette to water customers in Hillsboro and the Tualatin Valley Water District, which covers most of Aloha and Beaverton and part of Tigard.
The Environmental Protection Agency has approved two new loans, totaling $640 million, for a major water-supply infrastructure program in western Oregon.
The loan approvals, announced on Aug. 19, are part of EPA’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, or WIFIA, program and will help finance the $1.3-billion, multi-year Willamette Water Supply System program.
A $388-million loan is going to the Tualatin Valley Water District and a $251-million loan to the city of Hillsboro, Ore., which have teamed up on the project. Andrea Watson, spokesperson for the water district, said its loan closed on Aug. 2 and the Hillsboro loan closed on Aug. 16.
EPA’s action represents the first time that it has approved more than one WIFIA loan for a project.
The city of Beaverton, Ore., on July 1 joined the water district and Hillsboro as another partner in the project but it isn’t involved in the loans.
Longtime city employee Niki Iverson will take over JWC as well as Hillsboro Water Department.
HillsboroTribune Geoff Pursinger Tuesday, July 16, 2019
The city of Hillsboro has hired a new head to the regional joint water agency responsible for providing water to a large swath of Washington County.
Niki Iverson has been named the city’s new water department director, and will take over as general manager of the Joint Water Commission.
The Joint Water Commission provides water to more than 375,000 people in Hillsboro, Forest Grove, Beaverton and the Tualatin Valley Water District, which serves parts of Hillsboro and Beaverton. The JWC operates the largest water treatment plant in Oregon.
Iverson is no stranger to Hillsboro. As the city’s water resources manager for the past 12 years, Iverson was oversaw water quality monitoring, reporting, watershed management and water rights.
Iverson replaces longtime water director Kevin Hanway, who retired last month after 14 years as the head of the JWC.
“Niki is the most effective manager I know,” Hanway said. “She is recognized statewide for her expertise in the water field and in infrastructure finance. Our partners know Niki and trust her judgment, and Water Department staff are excited for the continued progress that her leadership will bring.”
Iverson takes over at an important time. The cities of Hillsboro, Beaverton and Tualatin Valley Water District are working on the massive Willamette Water Supply Program, which will pump water from Wilsonville to Washington County by 2026. Construction on the project is currently underway.
“Niki is highly regarded and respected in the regional water community, and has the necessary skills and work ethic to lead the Hillsboro Water Department and JWC well into the future,” Interim City Manager Robby Hammond said. “Hillsboro has a long-standing reputation of forward thinking and strategic planning, and Niki is well prepared to continue that tradition.”
Iverson starts work June 28.
Hillsboro Tribune, Olivia Singer Tuesday, February 19, 2019
There are seven years left in the development of the Willamette Water Supply Program.
Roughly halfway through a massive $1.2 billion project creating an additional water source for cities across Washington County, including Hillsboro, officials say it’s still on track to go live in 2026, and the next few years will see lots of construction in the region.
Since 2012, the Tualatin Valley Water District and the city of Hillsboro have been partnering to build the Willamette Water Supply System, which will draw in water from the Willamette River near Wilsonville through a new pipeline system to Hillsboro.
It’s an effort to increase water supply for the projected growth Hillsboro and neighboring cities are expecting to see in the next couple decades, an opportunity for Hillsboro to have more than one water source — which most surrounding cities do — and it’s a seismically resilient water system, TVWD media and community relations coordinator Marlys Mock said.
Coordinators are proud of the work they’ve done up to this point, Mock said, with 96 percent of the money spent on the project so far spent locally, all completed construction done by local contractors, and with minimal disruption construction-wise, coordinating with local jurisdictions to build the pipeline at the same time as road projects, lessening traffic and construction impacts and reducing project costs.
“(The project) has been broken up (into sections) partly because of jurisdictional boundaries, but also so that local contractors would have an ability to bid and win the work,” Mock said. “We didn’t want such an enormous project that it would take an international company to do, and so that effort has worked because so far all of our contractors are local.
The pipeline will run through South Hillsboro — from Southeast Blanton Street to Tualatin Valley Highway, to Southeast Frances Street and Southwest Farmington Road to Southeast Blanton Street — with some of that portion of the project’s construction already underway. Project managers were able to coordinate with the new construction happening in South Hillsboro, building the pipeline at the same time the major parts of construction take place, Mock said.
More local construction, including the Cornelius Pass Pipeline Project from Southeast Frances Street to Highway 26, is expected to begin in 2021 and be completed in 2023, according to the project map.
The additional water supply will serve well for the region’s future, Mock said.
“After a big earthquake, like what they are expecting, this is the only system that will be up and running,” Mock said. “So for the regional recovery aspect and trying to get water back online in weeks or days instead of months or longer, (it is) really important for that.”
Mock added, “Again, the additional source for Hillsboro so that they are not so dependent on one, and then we will still have a connection with the City of Portland, but this also gives us that local ownership and control. … To own your own system, that’s pretty great.”
Mock said other cities, including Beaverton, are likely to join in on the partnership. But whether they choose to or not, the water system will serve as an emergency backup for them.
“We hope to have emergency connections along the way to other communities, so even if the City of Sherwood decides they don’t want to become part of this partnership, they still have an emergency intertie so that if something happened to their source, they could get water from us,” Mock said. “But the more partners that come on, the better.”
The development of an additional water supply through a partnership “supports the region’s plans for responsible growth within the urban growth boundary,” coordinators said. “There is enough water for today — but steps need to be taken now to have an adequate supply to meet future demands and provide greater safety and reliability.”
Pamplin Media Group (December 14, 2018)
“The proposed 2019 water rate adjustments varied by customer class in order to ensure each class is paying their fair share based on how customers use the City’s water system and how much water they use,”
Water rates will rise by up to 20 percent for some of Hillsboro’s businesses, and by smaller amounts for single-family residential households, starting in 2019.
The Hillsboro Utilities Commission approved rate increases for the New Year, the city announced this week. Increases will also affect water customers in Cornelius, Gaston and the L.A. Water Cooperative in Laurelwood, which buy their water wholesale from Hillsboro.
The rate increases vary by customer class. The largest increase is for irrigation, which will see a 20 percent hike. Multi-family residential, commercial and public entities will shoulder a 14.7 percent increase — more than 4 percentage points less than what was originally proposed, as the commission decided on a somewhat smaller increase “after receiving input from Hillsboro community members during the rate setting process,” the city stated in a news release.
Increases for single-family residential, nonprofit and industrial customers will stay in the single-digit percentages. Single-family residential customers will see a 5 percent increase, nonprofits will experience a 6 percent increase and industrial water bills will go up by 8.5 percent.
The typical single-family residential customer will see their bill increase by about $1.61, according to the City of Hillsboro.
The water rate increase is greater for Hillsboro’s wholesale customers. Cornelius’ water rate increase is approved at 9.2 percent. Gaston and Laurelwood will get a 10.9 percent bump in rates.
The new rates will become effective Feb. 1, 2019.
Tree for All (December 2018)
For years, partners have been preparing to transform this reach of Chicken Creek. In 1996, thanks in part to the grassroots support of Friends of Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, the US Fish & Wildlife Service purchased the surrounding land and initiated restoration efforts. In 2009, a half-mile upstream from the refuge, neighbors on Green Heron Drive began working with the City of Sherwood, contractors, and other partners to enhance the creek near its crossing with busy Roy Rogers Road. Since 2017, the US Fish & Wildlife Service has been creating opportunities for volunteers to do hands-on creekside restoration near the southern edge of the refuge.
More recently, partners embarked upon a long-awaited project that will realign Chicken Creek to its historic path, embracing the role that beavers can play in the placement of woody debris and revegetation. Project steps include modeling and excavating the historic path of the creek; rerouting and filling in the current channel; removing invasive species and replanting native vegetation; reestablishing a creek connection to the floodplain; and beginning long-term monitoring.
By: Norm Eder, November 19, 2018
WIFIA funding will save ratepayers about $383 million in borrowing costs for the new water system.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced last week that Tualatin Valley Water District (TVWD) and the City of Hillsboro are eligible to apply for $616.6 million in federal loan support for the Willamette Water Supply System (WWSS) through the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation program (WIFIA).
This is a remarkable success as the EPA selected only 39 proposals nationwide this year. The $1.2 billion investment in the WWSS will not change.
However, WIFIA funding will save ratepayers about $383 million in borrowing costs for the new water system.
Creating and funding the WIFIA program has been one of Senator Jeff Merkley’s highest legislative priorities since 2013. Senator Wyden, and Representatives Suzanne Bonamici, of Washington County, Earl Blumenauer, Kurt Schrader and Peter DeFazio each lent their support at critical legislative moments to make WIFIA a reality.
The WIFIA program encourages local investments in water and wastewater capital improvements across the country by offering long-term low interest rate financing with flexible draw down and repayment options.
The teamwork in Washington, D.C., mirrors the remarkable level of local cooperation at the heart of WWSS — the TVWD/Hillsboro partnership.
TVWD and Hillsboro have long been partners in our regional Joint Water Commission, which operates a water treatment plan that provides 365,000 people with water today.
As the two organizations searched for a future water supply, it became evident that working together was the way to go. The result is the WWSS which, once built, will serve our region well into the next century.
WWSS will draw water from the Willamette River at Wilsonville, pump it to a new water treatment plant near Sherwood, and then distribute the water to TVWD, Hillsboro, and Beaverton customers. More than 30 miles of 66-inch diameter pipeline will be installed with water flowing to customer taps in 2026.
The new system has many benefits. It will be a highly reliable water supply for our growing region.
The system has been designed to withstand a major Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake, speeding the region’s recovery after a large natural disaster. And, the state-of-the-art treatment plant will help protect us from contaminants such as algal toxins that result from our changing climate.
In addition to household water needs, the new system will support the region with reliable water service for fire protection and economic development.
We are already seeing the benefits of the smart planning at the core of WWSS. The newly built 124th Avenue extension, linking Sherwood and Tualatin to Wilsonville, is an example of how the WWSS communities and Washington County are working together to save money and reduce impacts to residents and the environment.
The county and WWSS worked cooperatively, so the WWSS pipeline could be installed before the new road was built.
WWSS has also cooperated with Wilsonville and Hillsboro transportation projects. More cooperation is coming when the county tackles Tualatin-Sherwood Road, Roy Rogers, and other projects over the next few years.
The WWSS is also contributing to our local economy. To date, WWSS has spent $80 million with 96 percent of this spending going into local businesses.
The Westside Economic Alliance works hard to sustain the economic vitality of the region. We do this by supporting the people, companies, and governments who do the hard work every day to protect and strengthen our communities.
The core value of WWSS is long-term reliability. What we see in WWSS is how our entire community, from those who represent us in Washington D.C. to those serving us in local governments, can be relied upon to work together to achieve very big things.
If you want to know more about WWSS, turn to: OurReliableWater.org
Norm Eder serves on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors for the Westside Economic Alliance and is also a past president of WEA.