In the News

$640M federal loan awarded for Willamette Water project

Money to Tualatin Valley Water District and Hillsboro accounts for about half of the $1.2B price tag.

A federal loan of $640 million will enable the Tualatin Valley Water District and several Washington County cities to draw water from the Willamette River.

The announcement this week by the Environmental Protect Agency will allow the Willamette Water Supply Project to proceed with a $1.2 billion project that will deliver water by 2026.

Continue reading article at BeavertonValleyTimes

Chicken Creek project to create Tualatin River wetland

Work at the National Wildlife Refuge is focused on restoring the creek to its original shape.

The Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge is starting a yearlong project to re-create the original curvature of Chicken Creek.

The creek, which naturally flowed into the Tualatin River, was constructed into a single straight line a century ago for farming purposes.

“When you straighten (a creek), the water goes a lot faster and carries a lot more sediment in it, and it doesn’t carry as much diversity in the channel,” Refuge manager Larry Klimek said. When it returns to its natural flow, he added, “It’ll slow down and spread out over the landscape.”

The construction will help create a natural wetland system on the Refuge’s 280-acre Atfalat’i Unit.

Klimek said he doesn’t anticipate water staying in the creek channel, because beavers will most likely come and dam portions of the creek, causing it to pond and flood.

“It just creates a whole lot of other diversity,” he said. “So now you have water influencing a much larger area than just one strip coming down.”

The construction has been a part of the Refuge’s comprehensive conservation plan since 2013.

Organizations like Ducks Unlimited, Friends of the Tualatin National Wildlife Refuge, Willamette Water Supply and…

Continue reading article at SherwoodGazette

Hillsboro looks at water rate increases for 2020

Cornelius water customers would see their rates hiked nearly 10%. Most of Hillsboro’s rates would go up less.

For the third time in four years, the City of Hillsboro is looking at raising water rates for customers in the city, as well as Cornelius, Gaston and Laurelwood.

The city’s utilities commission plans to consider the matter in October, but Hillsboro officials are hoping for feedback from the community about the changes by the end of this month.

If approved, the water rate increases would go into effect next year.

The proposed increases would raise the rate for single-family homes by 4.9%, nearly the same increase the city imposed last year, when it raised water rates for single-family customers by 5%. According to the city, a typical resident living in a single-family home uses about 6,000 gallons of water per month. Their water bill would increase by $1.68, from $34.34 to $36.02.

Customers are charged based on how much water they use, as well as the frequency they use. Actual percentages are expected to…

Continue reading article at HillsboroNewsTimes

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.

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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

Hillsboro State of the City a celebration of accomplishments

Mayor Steve Callaway’s annual state of the city looks back on the year that was, and the future of Hillsboro

The president’s annual State of the Union address is often seen as a formal, serious affair, but in the Hillsboro Civic Center on Tuesday night, surrounding by bicyclists, plenty of jokes and a parody video of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” Hillsboro Mayor Steve Callaway’s annual State of the City was anything but.

Callaway, who has served as Hillsboro’s mayor since 2017, said the annual address is meant to be a celebration of the city’s accomplishments, and a look toward the future.

“The city loves to have fun,” Callaway told a packed crowd on Jan. 29. “It’s true in everything we do, including our state of the city.”

Callaway outlined a number of accomplishments the city achieved in 2018, touching everything from transportation to sustainability.

“As a city government, we never shut down,” Callaway said, poking fun at the partial shutdown of the federal government, which ended last week after more than a month. “Since Oct. 19, 1876 we have been serving our community for 52,042 consecutive days, plus about 18 hours and 10 minutes. Cities don’t shut down and our budgets always balance.”

In a city where more than one-quarter of the population is non-white, the city has launched a plan to bring more cultural arts to the city, and purchased children’s books for its city libraries in seven new languages. It launched a Spanish-language city newsletter and continued its mission to engage the community through its Civic Leadership Academy, which works to prepare residents to serve on city boards and commissions. City Councilor Beach Pace is the first graduate of the program to be elected to the Council.

Callaway said the city is working to be more inclusive and engage with diverse community members.

“We’re taking the time to get it right,” Callaway said.

Continue reading Hillsboro State of the City a celebration of accomplishments

Hillsboro approves higher water rates

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.

Read the story here. 

Powerful ecological enhancement amid rapid urbanization

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.

Read more here.




Collaboration leads to water savings

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:

Norm Eder serves on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors for the Westside Economic Alliance and is also a past president of WEA.

Read article here.

Oregon Delegation Announces Major Water Infrastructure Loan for Tualatin Valley Water District and City of Hillsboro

November 2, 2018

PORTLAND, OR – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, with Representatives Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer, and Kurt Schrader, today announced that a massive $616.6 million loan, made possible through special federal funding from the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), will be made available to the Tualatin Valley Water District and the City of Hillsboro.

The financing will save ratepayers in the Willamette Water Supply System hundreds of millions of dollars in financing costs for the drinking water system that is under construction to deliver water to the agencies by 2026.

“Investments in water infrastructure create good jobs and are critical for public health,” said Merkleywho in January 2017 celebrated the official launch of his WIFIA law that is making this financing available to the Willamette Water Supply System. “Oregon’s leaders—including those in Washington County—deserve a tremendous share of the credit for this progress. Their persistence in brainstorming solutions ultimately led to the creation of this program. As this Willamette Water Supply System shows, that persistence is already is paying huge dividends for our communities here in Oregon—and for communities across the country.”

“These investments will make an incredible difference for Hillsboro and Tualatin Valley Water District customers, saving them money and giving them ease of mind that their water supply will be protected,” Wyden said. “The program is an excellent example of the work that can be done to bring our nation’s water infrastructure into the 21st century. I will continue to fight for infrastructure funding and financing for all forms of infrastructure in Oregon and around the country.”

“Access to safe and reliable drinking water is critical for our communities to stay healthy and thrive,” Bonamici said. “This federal financing will boost the ambitious plan that is in place to upgrade water systems in Washington County, benefitting hundreds of thousands of Oregonians. We need more resilient and sustainable water infrastructure investments like this to protect our communities from toxic contaminants and natural disasters.”

“Having access to clean drinking water is extremely important and this is another opportunity for Oregon to lead the way,” Blumenauer said.

“This grant is excellent news for ratepayers throughout the Tualatin Valley Water District,” Schrader said. “Water infrastructure is, of course, a foundational cornerstone to every community and ensuring that we continue to invest in that infrastructure is vital to a community’s survival. The ability to invest and improve that while also saving ratepayers millions of dollars is huge, and I applaud my colleagues and the leaders of Washington County for their hard work in this.”

“Receiving federal support is a testament to the merits and importance of the supply program to the region,” said Bernice Bagnall, Chair of the Board of TVWD Commission. “The WIFIA funding saves our customers millions in repayment costs. Oregon’s congressional delegation deserves our thanks for convincing Congress create the WIFIA program and for strongly supporting our project.”

“I am thrilled for Hillsboro and Tualatin Valley Water District customers to know the WIFIA loan will save them million dollars in the coming decades,” said Hillsboro Mayor Steve Callaway. “These cost savings demonstrate the importance of local and federal officials working together to ensure that our investment in an additional, resilient, and redundant future water supply makes the most of every dollar.”

Through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), partners in the Willamette Water Supply System will be able to apply for up to $616.6 million in WIFIA financing support. The WIFIA financing, once completed, will save Tualatin Valley Water District and City of Hillsboro ratepayers approximately $383 million in repayment costs.

The new drinking water delivery system—including its intake, over 30 miles of pipes, water treatment plant, and two storage reservoirs—will serve 400,000 residents and businesses in Washington County. The $1.2 billion system is being built to the highest seismic safety standard to recover quickly after a major earthquake. To date, 96 percent of the project’s expenditures, over $80 million, have been spent in the local economy.

The WIFIA program was created by Merkley in 2014, signed into law in December 2016. Merkley fought to create the WIFIA program after hearing directly from Oregon community leaders, including those in Washington County, about the lack of low-cost financing options for critical water infrastructure upgrade and repair projects.

Last year, the competitive program selected 12 projects for loans, including the Willamette Water Supply System project. The WIFIA credit assistance allows the Tualatin Valley Water District and City of Hillsboro to lock in financing savings at today’s low rates for the duration of the entire program. And, unlike commercial bond transactions, payments on borrowed funds do not begin until funds are taken, adding to the savings for ratepayers.

Link to Press Release