All posts by willamettewater

Beaverton, Portland invited to apply for federal water loan

It’s one of 39 projects nationwide that the Environmental Protection Agency has encouraged to seek money from a program created by Sen. Jeff Merkley; Portland also invited; $6.3 billion total is available in third round.

Beaverton has been invited to apply for a $58 million federal loan to help pay for water system improvements.

Beaverton’s proposed work is among 39 projects in 19 states, including a $554 million plan from Portland, invited by the Environmental Protection Agency to seek a share of $6.3 billion available this year under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.

Although there is no guarantee, an EPA statement says: “An invitation to apply indicates that EPA believes the selected projects will be able to attain WIFIA loans.”

The EPA loaned money under this same program to the Tualatin Valley Water District and the city of Hillsboro, which received a total of $640 million, repayable by water customers, for construction of the $1.2 billion Willamette Water Supply Program. When completed in 2026, the regional program will draw from the Willamette River as a backup source of water to the district and several cities, including Beaverton, which joined earlier this year.

Hagg Lake is the primary source of water for much of Washington County, but seismic concerns about Scoggins Dam — which is under study by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation — have led local governments to develop another water source if there is a severe earthquake off the Oregon coast.

“We are committed to ensuring a safe and reliable water supply for our growing community,” Mayor Denny Doyle said in a statement. “This is a positive next step in our efforts toward critical water infrastructure improvements that will enhance resiliency for our customers and the greater region. We appreciate the opportunity to participate in the application process.”

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, was the chief sponsor of the law that was signed in December 2016 to create the loan program.

“Oregon’s leaders deserve a tremendous share of the credit for this progress,” he said in a statement. “Their persistence in brainstorming solutions ultimately led to the creation of this program. As these water infrastructure projects show, persistence is already is paying huge dividends for our communities here in Oregon — and for communities across the country.”

Beaverton has begun work on two major water projects.

One is a 5.5-million-gallon reservoir on Cooper Mountain to match an existing reservoir built in 1994. Given population growth in the city, and on Cooper Mountain, city officials have said a second reservoir will be needed soon. The City Council has authorized $23.9 million in revenue bonds, repaid by water customers, for the project.

The other is a 24-inch intertie between Tualatin Valley Highway/Cornelius Pass Road and Southwest 209th Avenue. It is part of the Willamette Water Supply Program. Beaverton’s estimated share of the regional program intertie is between $3 million and $4 million, also to be paid by water customers.

In addition, the city estimates it will have to replace 28.4 miles of water pipes and 1,850 fire hydrants over the next 30 years.

“I know firsthand how important it is to find outside capital when a community needs critical infrastructure investments,” said Chris Hladick, EPA regional administrator for four states. “These drinking water projects in Oregon are important public health investments, so we’re pleased that Beaverton and Portland are included in this list of eligible communities.”  

Read the Beaverton Valley Times article here.

Clean Water, Good Jobs

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, October 9, 2019

In 2016, the country was shocked when we learned that an entire city’s water supply in Flint, Michigan was contaminated, harming children and leaving a community relying on bottled water and fearful of their faucets. 

We’ve heard stories about critical water quality issues in Oregon, too, like cyanobacteria contamination in Salem, and water boiling advisories in Warm Springs.  In other communities, getting ahead of their water infrastructure needs meant ratepayers facing big increases on their bills.  All of this is why I created the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program, called WIFIA.

WIFIA creates jobs and helps local communities build new water facilities and fix old and crumbling water pipes. That’s why I was excited to be in Tualatin this morning to celebrate Oregon’s first WIFIA project, the Willamette Water Supply Program, which will serve the greater Portland metro area for generations to come.          

Back in 2012, drinking water officials in Washington County suggested that a federal loan program could make a huge difference as they tried to build and repair their water system.  I had been hearing from other local governments all across Oregon that there was a frustrating and costly gap in financing options for badly-needed water infrastructure projects. I fought to create and fund WIFIA because when we give local communities the help they need to confront steep up-front costs, we can create jobs and complete the long-term infrastructure improvement projects that save ratepayers money and, more importantly, keep our communities safe and healthy.

Funds invested into this program are used to secure low-interest loans for long-term infrastructure investments, meaning every dollar of WIFIA funding supports roughly $90 in total investment. This year, I used my seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee to help secure enough funding for up to $7.3 billion in investments — a huge help for critical drinking water and wastewater treatment projects across the country. For the program I visited today, TVWD and the City of Hillsboro ratepayers will save an estimated $264 million in loan interest compared to typical bond financing.

Every Oregonian deserves access to clean, modern, and up-to-date water systems. Please know that I’ll never stop fighting for the clean water and good jobs that our communities need — and I’ll always listen to local communities in every corner of Oregon so that your voices are heard in DC.

All my best,

Jeff

Merkley celebrated the $640 million in federal loans to Tualatin Valley Water District and Hillsboro to build the $1.2 billion Willamette Water Supply Program

Later, Merkley celebrated the $640 million in federal loans to Tualatin Valley Water District and Hillsboro to build the $1.2 billion Willamette Water Supply Program, which will draw from the Willamette River to provide a backup source of water for them and other cities that join the project. The loans from the Environmental Protection Agency were made possible under a federal program Merkley conceived in 2014 and President Barack Obama signed into law in 2016.

Read the article in Beaverton Valley Times

Beaverton Joins Willamette Water Supply Program

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.

Read the article in Beaverton’s September/October Issue of YOUR CITY NEWSLETTER (page 7).

Our Opinion: Get ready, because there’s construction ahead

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.)

Continue reading in the Sherwood Gazette

Willamette River water project gains federal Aid

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.

Continue reading the article at the DJCOregon

Public invited to learn more about Cornelius Pass Road widening

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.

ontinue reading the article at Hillsboro News Times

EPA Clears $640M in WIFIA Loans for $1.3B Oregon Water Project

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.

Continue reading the article at ENR

New head of Joint Water Commission hired

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.

Read article

Plans on track for Hillsboro’s new water source

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.

COURTESY PHOTO - A map and schedule of planned projects within the new water system development.

COURTESY PHOTO – A map and schedule of planned projects within the new water system development.

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.”

Read the original article Hillsboro Tribune