Beaverton Moves Ahead with Water Agreements

One allows withdrawal of 16,000 people within city from Tualatin Valley district; other commits city to join regional intertie system with Willamette River.

Beaverton has taken two more steps toward moving 16,000 residents into city water service and securing future water from the Willamette River.

City councilors have voted to empower Mayor Denny Doyle to sign an agreement with Tualatin Valley Water District, which will allow 16,000 district customers already in the city limits to transition to city water service.

The actual withdrawal will await public hearings by the City Council in March. The agreement allows the district to continue water service during the transition, which is projected to start in July.

City councilors also gave preliminary approval to an agreement committing the city to join the Willamette Intake Facility, which eventually will enable Beaverton and other cities to draw water as part of the Willamette Water Supply System.

Final approval for Doyle to sign the second agreement hinges on a council vote scheduled Feb. 27.

Both actions took place Tuesday, Feb. 20.

Councilor Mark Fagin was the lone dissenter on the agreement with the Tualatin Valley Water District.

Although both agreements were discussed at two work sessions earlier in February, no one testified at the public hearing on the intake agreement Feb. 20 — and councilors themselves said little.

“But both of these two items we are passing are a huge deal,” Councilor Cate Arnold said just before the vote. “It has to do with providing water to our citizens for the next 50 to 100 years. There have been thousands of hours spent on these items. We have spent years talking about it.”

Three separate water districts serve more than 25,000 people within Beaverton city limits. Most (22,500) live in the Tualatin Valley Water District, and the current action will affect 16,000 of them.

The district withdrawal proposed for public hearings in March focuses on areas specified in central, northwest and west, and southeast Beaverton (2-6). The area around the Tualatin Valley district headquarters is excluded.

For customers — assuming usage of 8 cubic feet per billing period and a change in rates for the city and the district starting in November 2018 — city officials say they will see their monthly bills drop from $57.67 to $41.96, for an annual savings of $188.52. (A cubic foot of water is 748 gallons.)

“I think it will be positive for Beaverton moving forward in having more control over our rates,” Public Works Director David Donaldson told the council.

Areas north of the Sunset Highway (5,000 people) and east of Southwest Scholls Ferry Road (900), also served by the Tualatin Valley district, are considered “deferred withdrawal areas” through mid-2037 and are excluded from the proposed city action.

The intake project is important for Beaverton’s future water supply.

The proposed agreement will commit the city to join the Willamette Intake Facilities, now controlled by the Tualatin Valley Water District and Wilsonville. Other cities planning to join are Hillsboro, Sherwood and Tigard, which together will form a new regional commission.

Beaverton will buy a 3.33 percent share of the existing intake at $250,080.

It also will have a 3.33 percent share ($752,928) of the total $15.27 million cost of intake improvements.

The Willamette Water Supply System is an extensive undertaking estimated at $1.2 billion. Pipeline construction began last year and the system is scheduled to start up in 2026.

Beaverton’s estimated share is 5 million gallons per day, 3.33 percent of the projected 150 million gallons per day from the completed system.

If a severe earthquake disrupts Beaverton, Councilor Arnold said the city will be able to draw some water.

“There is good news in that we are finally putting in a resilient water system that, when we have a Cascadia subduction zone event (earthquake), we should be able to get some water going through our valley,” she said. “Even though it’s been so quiet and no one seems to have anything to say, this is a huge deal.”


By Peter Wong (pwong@pamplinmedia.comtwitter.com/capitolwong)

Originally posted at PamplinMedia.com