In the News

Pipeline water treatment plant project to get under way in 2022

Water supply program plans to seek approval to build a new water treatment plant in Sherwood.

Ray Pitz,  Tuesday, August 25, 2020, The Times

An ambitious pipeline project that will result in providing drinking water for those in the Tualatin Valley Water District, along with residents in the cities of Beaverton and Hillsboro, is moving forward with plans to begin construction on a water treatment plant in 2022.

The Willamette Water Supply Program, a joint project between the Tualatin Valley Water District, Hillsboro and Beaverton, is expected to submit a land-use application to the city of Sherwood in September to build an expansive water treatment facility in Sherwood, just off of the 124th Avenue extension, according to Marlys Mock, media and community relations coordinator for the program.

Built on 40 acres of property annexed by the city of Sherwood last winter, the future treatment plant will be constructed on 20 acres of land that will be accessed along a future roadway, Blake Street, west of 124th Avenue. The facility will be able to withstand a catastrophic natural disaster such as an earthquake, according to Willamette Water Supply Program officials.

At the same time, road and other improvements will be made on another 20 acres also owned by the Willamette Water Supply Program.

“There will be pedestrian/bike amenities on Blake (Street) and then Washington County also requires us to build out some improvements on 124th (Avenue). That will be happening as part of this project, too,” said Mock.

The new treatment facility, expected to be completed in 2026, will include viewing platforms that oversee nearby wetlands areas, along with accompanying interpretive signs.

The plant will be able to provide up to 60 million gallons of water per day but is designed for a maximum of 120 million gallons of water each day.

The overall pipeline project calls for the construction of an intake line that originates on the Willamette River in Wilsonville.

Tualatin Valley Water District has customers in Washington County as well as unincorporated portions of Beaverton and Hillsboro. The pipeline would provide a backup source for Beaverton water, city officials there have said, and while the Clackamas River is the main source of water for Tigard, TVWD serves portions of that city as well.

The pipeline will eventually make its way up Grabhorn Road, where two 15-million-gallon reservoir tanks will be built.

“At the top of Grabhorn on Cooper Mountain, that’s where we’re building our reservoir tanks,” said Mock. “We’re planning on starting construction (in 2021).”

In addition, a portion of the pipeline will be installed along Tualatin-Sherwood Road, beginning in 2021 and completed in the fall of 2024. That installation will include improvements to the road between Teton Avenue and Langer Farms Parkway, where it will be widened to five lanes — two lanes in each direction and a center lane — in a joint project between the water agency and the Washington County Department of Land Use & Transportation.

The pipeline project is being funded by Tualatin Valley Water District and Hillsboro and Beaverton ratepayers.

Read the story at The Times

Hillsboro Willamette Water Supply System Map And Pipeline Route Updates

This map update reflects changes to the Scholls Area Pipeline Project north section (PLM_5.3).

Hillsboro Water Department has planned years in advance to ensure there is plentiful drinking water today, tomorrow, and in the future for the community.

While Hillsboro’s sole water supply source is the upper-Tualatin River, projections show by 2026 that Hillsboro’s water needs will significantly increase.

To meet future drinking water demand, the City of Hillsboro, Tualatin Valley Water District, and City of Beaverton are partnering to develop the mid-Willamette River at Wilsonville as an additional water supply source.

Design and construction of the new Willamette Water Supply System (WWSS) is underway, and includes building:

  • A modified water intake on the Willamette River at Wilsonville.
  • A state-of-the-art water filtration facility near Tualatin/Sherwood.
  • Water supply tanks in Beaverton.
  • More than 30 miles of large diameter transmission water pipeline traveling north from Wilsonville, through Beaverton, and into Hillsboro.

The system is designed to withstand the impacts of a large earthquake or other natural disaster, and will be built to modern seismic standards to help restore service quickly after a catastrophic event.

Recently, the WWSS system map was updated to show the latest pipeline route and better reflect the timelines for each project. Specifically, the map shows two areas where the preferred pipeline alignment has been refined through design:

  • This map update reflects changes to the Scholls Area Pipeline Project north section (PLM_5.3). Analysis of the preliminary design alignment along Clark Hill and Farmington roads identified significant seismic risks. The updated alignment was selected after several alternative alignments were analyzed for seismic stability, environmental and community impacts, construction feasibility, and opportunities to partner or coordinate with Washington County.
  • This map update also reflects changes to the previous alignment for the Beaverton Area Pipeline Project (PLE_1.0). This alignment was revised and renamed to the Metzger Pipeline East Project (MPE_1.0), after studies concluded the Metzger alignment provides cost efficiency and reduces construction and environmental impacts compared to the original route.

No changes were made to the alignment through Hillsboro, which includes approximately six miles of pipe along the current and future Cornelius Pass Road from the Sunset Highway on the north to Rosedale Road on the south.

The latest map and schedule – updated regularly – can be located online.

Beaverton’s newest neighborhood adding 3,000 homes

The new community is being built around Mountainside High School, across a state highway from Tigard’s River Terrace.

In the area, crews have been working for months to install pipelines and other infrastructure for the Willamette Water Supply Program, which will provide a drinking water source from the Willamette River. Officials in Hillsboro, Beaverton and the Tualatin Valley Water District — the main partners on the project — say it’s needed to supply the area with enough water for all the new residents of those communities.

Don’t look now, but South Cooper Mountain — the neighborhood of townhomes and houses across Southwest 175th Avenue from Mountainside High School — is starting to look like a real community.

Residents are beginning to populate what Beaverton has officially designated the East Neighborhood, as construction continues around a small but growing cluster of homes.

South Cooper Mountain began accepting applications for development in 2015. In 2017, Mountainside High opened at the corner of Southwest 175th Avenue and Scholls Ferry Road. It’s at the heart of the South Cooper Mountain area now under development.

To date, Beaverton has issued 107 building permits for South Cooper Mountain. Twete said the city expects to receive more applications as the area continue to take shape. Some subdivisions like housing developers Arbor Home’s South Cooper Heights are already being inhabited by families despite the surrounding construction.

“If you went out, you’d see patio furniture and cars in the driveway,” said Twete.

“You’ll also see other areas where there has been excavation, where they’ve been building water lines and putting infrastructure in place,” added Anna Slavinsky, who leads the Beaverton planning division.

It’s true. And there’s much more to come.

“We estimate that there will be over 3,000 homes once the area is fully developed,” said Cheryl Twete, Beaverton’s community development director. “Right now, there are entitlements in place for 2,800.”

Parallels in Tigard

In many regards, the development at South Cooper Mountain mirrors what’s happening on the other side of Highway 210, or Scholls Ferry Road. The boundary between Beaverton and Tigard runs along the highway, and on its south side, Tigard continues to build up the largest planned development in its history.

Tigard got a head start on Beaverton. The city annexed hundreds of acres on the west side of Bull Mountain — the next “mountain” south of Cooper Mountain, although both more closely resemble gently sloping hills — in 2011. Ground broke on River Terrace in 2015, when Beaverton was still soliciting development plans for the land across Scholls Ferry Road.

In both communities, the development area has been divided up into blocs, with construction phased instead of going forward across the entire area at once. Now nearly five years into its construction, River Terrace still has some blocs yet to break ground, while construction in South Cooper Mountain has just fairly recently expanded out from 175th Avenue.

Yet despite River Terrace’s size and more advanced stage, South Cooper Mountain is expected to be somewhat larger once it’s fully built out. Tigard officials estimate River Terrace will top out around 2,500 homes, several hundred fewer than are already planned for South Cooper Mountain.

Polygon Northwest, the primary developer in River Terrace, was approved to build a subdivision in South Cooper Mountain called The Ridge, which is set to begin welcoming residents this summer. The developer was acquired last month by rival Taylor Morrison Home Corp., which is in the process of rebranding — although work is continuing as planned.

Although currently the South Cooper Mountain area is dominated by single-family homes, the first apartment building in the new neighborhood is scheduled to break ground within the next few month.

Also, just last week, 175 new affordable housing units were proposed within the development area on the west side of the Mountainside High School campus, according to Twete.

“Affordable housing is a huge need in our community, and we are really excited to see the possibility of getting some fixed-income housing here in South Cooper Mountain,” Twete said.

More planning to be done

With homes going up and residents moving in, the South Cooper Mountain project team has shifted to planning for the roughly 1,000 acres of unincorporated land north of the current development.

The South Cooper Mountain Annexation Area, which makes up just 544 acres of the 2,300 acres encompassing South Cooper Mountain, was officially brought into Beaverton in 2011 after the expansion of the city’s urban boundary.

Following the annexation, the city created a Concept Plan that was published in 2014. That plan includes not just the recently acquired territory, but the entirety of South Cooper Mountain. Holding just a sliver of the 2,300 acres, the city mapped out this plan with the intention of eventually acquiring the rest of the area.

“The SCM Concept Plan was a high-level feasibility study and visioning exercise that covers a large area,” Slavinsky explained. The plan divides the 2,300 acres into three primary areas: the South Cooper Mountain Annexation Area, the Urban Reserve Area and North Cooper Mountain, the latter of which is already developed but is situated outside city limits.

Due to the large scope of the project, the city then created a smaller, more detailed Community Plan specific for the South Cooper Mountain Annexation Area, the region within the city’s boundaries.

The Community Plan covers everything from contextualizing the South Cooper Mountain Annexation Area’s landscape to the community’s planned land use, resource protection and infrastructure. It took three years to create.

Past, present and future

With housing and land developments still underway in South Cooper Mountain, the surrounding roads will also see major roadwork being done.

Washington County is currently in the process of widening Southwest Roy Rogers Road in Tigard, which continues into Beaverton as 175th Avenue. On the Beaverton side, 175th Avenue has undergone widening as well, complete with bike lanes and sidewalks, for the anticipated influx of pedestrians and cars. Some of that work is ongoing.

Around 2:30 p.m., when the final bell sounds at the high school, there is a flurry of activity in South Cooper Mountain. Dozens of students cross 175th Avenue at the light. Many have parked their cars along South Cooper Mountain’s partially complete network of streets — for now, just a place for them to leave their cars during the school day.

Construction is furthest along in South Cooper Mountain’s East Neighborhood, and that’s where the community’s small but growing population now lives. But houses are starting to rise on the other side of Mountainside High School as well, where five more neighborhoods in the South Cooper Mountain area are planned.

In the area, crews have been working for months to install pipelines and other infrastructure for the Willamette Water Supply Program, which will provide a drinking water source from the Willamette River. Officials in Hillsboro, Beaverton and the Tualatin Valley Water District — the main partners on the project — say it’s needed to supply the area with enough water for all the new residents of those communities.

With all that still underway in the South Cooper Mountain Annexation Area, the project is making plans to expand into the Urban Reserve Area, an even larger section of land to the north.

“Right now, we have expanded our interest to … the area that is just to the north of South Cooper Mountain,” said Twete. “That includes about 1,200 acres, since that area was added to the new urban growth boundary.”

Although the Urban Reserve Area is not yet annexed into Beaverton city limits, the South Cooper Mountain project team is already developing a community plan to guide its eventual development, similar to the community plan they developed for the South Cooper Mountain Annexation Area.

Currently, the team is only in the early phases of drafting a plan, and it doesn’t expect the plan to be complete for another three years.

In the meantime, there’s plenty of construction work on South Cooper Mountain still to do.

Read Portland Tribune story here. Monica Salazar and Mark Miller, Saturday, February 15, 2020

Officials boost plan to draw water from Willamette River

A $1.3 billion regional project scheduled for completion in 2026 will supply more for Hillsboro, be a backup source for Beaverton and enable the Tualatin Valley Water District to end purchases from Portland.

When the largest public works project in Washington County is completed seven years from now, it will draw millions of gallons from the Willamette River and deliver the water to Hillsboro, the Tualatin Valley Water District and Beaverton.

For Hillsboro, the Willamette Water Supply Program will mean more water for a growing city — development in South Hillsboro will add 20,000 more residents over 20 years — and for the expansion of Intel and other businesses.

For the Tualatin Valley Water District, whose customers live in unincorporated communities between Hillsboro and Beaverton, the program means a replacement source for water it now buys from Portland under agreements scheduled to end in 2026.

For Beaverton, the program means a new supplemental source of water that is less likely to be disrupted than its current deliveries from Hagg Lake if there is a severe earthquake off the Oregon coast.

Washington County itself forecasts 200,000 more people — the county’s current estimated tops 600,000 — by 2040.

The program manager and officials from the district, Beaverton and Hillsboro spoke about the project at a recent Washington County Public Affairs Forum.

In its simplest form, the project will require a new intake on the Willamette near Wilsonville and a 66-inch pipe for the water to reach a new treatment plant near Sherwood. (Wilsonville and Sherwood already draw water from the Willamette.)

More pipes will carry the water to two reservoirs, each 15 million gallons, on Cooper Mountain — and pipes will bring water to municipal systems in Beaverton, the district and Hillsboro.

Federal boost

Federal loans to the district and Hillsboro, announced by the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year, will amount to $640 million of the overall $1.3 billion project. Their water customers will repay those loans starting in 2026, once the project is completed.

“A lower cost will mean a lower impact on rates, and we will have excellent water quality from this supply,” said Dave Kraska, the program manager.

District customers will save $135 million, and Hillsboro customers $125 million over the 35-year duration of loans, said Tom Hickmann, TVWD chief executive officer since July. For his customers, he said, the savings will be about $20 on a monthly bill.

“But water rates are going up for us to afford the new infrastructure,” said Hickmann, formerly city engineer in Bend.

Beaverton, which officially joined the program in July, will not be liable for loan repayments. But city water customers will pay for their shares of the new source through higher water bills. The same applies to other cities that may join the program in the future.

No public election was required because no property taxes are being levied for the program.

Kraska said Hillsboro and the district conducted their own studies about where to get future water supplies, but drew the same conclusion that drawing from the Willamette would be the cheaper of several alternatives.

Others were increased capacity of Hagg Lake through a strengthened or relocated Scoggins Dam — the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is scheduled to recommend a preferred alternative early next year for seismic safety — development of groundwater sources near Sauvie Island, or purchases of water from Portland’s Bull Run watershed.

Once Hillsboro and TVWD agreed, Kraska said the joint program was formed.

Regional benefits

Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle said his city would draw up to 5 million gallons daily through the project once it is completed in 2026. (The regional intake is estimated at 60 million gallons daily.)

“i think this is a great example of what we can do when we work together. It forces us to the table to talk about regional issues and the ways we solve problems,” Doyle said.

“More water from different sources enhances our ability to respond to changing conditions.”

Doyle said he estimates city participation in the regional program will ultimately cost between $50 million and $55 million, payable by water customers.

The federal loans to TVWD and Hillsboro came under a program sponsored in 2014 by U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and included in a law signed in December 2016. Merkley said he did so at the request of Oregon local governments that could not find low-interest loans for water projects.

“This law has been a big positive change in that direction,” TVWD’s Hickman said. “These kinds of investments in infrastructure create jobs today … and for tomorrow.”

Niki Iverson, Hillsboro water manager, said the $1.3 billion project is split up so that contractors from Oregon and Washington will have the ability to bid.

“This enables our local contractors to be able to bid on projects and be competitive,” she said. “We wanted to avoid a situation where large national firms were going to come in and construct the entire project.”

So far, Iverson said, 96% of the $118 million spent to date has gone to local construction labor and materials.

Some pipe work already has been done in connection with road projects: Kinsman Road in Wilsonville; 124th Avenue between Tualatin and Sherwood, by Washington County, and South Hillsboro south of Tualatin Valley Hillsboro near Cornelius Pass Road.

“As much as we could, we scheduled much of our work to align with these other projects to save costs and reduce public impacts,” Kraska said.

But the program involves more than 30 miles of new pipes, so Kraska said there will be traffic delays when that work proceeds.

Before any of the new water from the Willamette is delivered, experts will have to test the mix. Kraska said water quality integration is necessary when water is mixed from several sources.

“We are evaluating the impact of bringing in these new supplies into the existing system and making sure we are properly prepared,” he said.

Read Beaverton Valley Times story here.

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,


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