TVWD

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.

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

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

$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

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

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.

 

 

 

Region in crosshairs of earthquake, study warns

By: Steve Law     

“When Hillsboro built its new city hall, the Hillsboro Civic Center, in 2005, it was built to withstand a major earthquake. Likewise, the city’s major construction project building a new water supply line from Wilsonville to Hillsboro, is being built to keep water pipes intact, even during an earthquake.”

Locals say cities are working to protect the region, but a massive quake will still cause havoc.

The “Big One” will devastate the Portland area even more than scientists expected, according to a new state geologists’ study of how a major earthquake will affect the tri-county area.

The study, released Thursday, March 15, found that a magnitude 9 earthquake centered off the Oregon Coast in the Cascadia Subduction Zone would cause tens of thousands of casualties in the Portland area, displace tens of thousands of residents from their homes, and cost tens of billions of dollars in building damage.

Virtually all of western Washington County’s population centers are within an area shaded red — the second-highest level of danger — on a risk map released along with the study by the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.

The study estimates Hillsboro would be second only to Portland among cities in the metro area in forecast damage from a major Cascadia earthquake.

Depending on whether the magnitude 9 offshore quake occurs during the daytime or the nighttime, there could be as many as 7,700 casualties in Washington County alone, the study warns.

Up to 121 people could die immediately in an earthquake in Hillsboro, according to the study. In Forest Grove and Cornelius, the study estimates about 41 dead between the two cities.

As many as 14 percent of buildings could be total losses in the county, with the cost to repair damaged buildings estimated between $7 billion and $11.6 billion in today’s dollars.

Across the county, up to 37,700 people could be displaced for an extended period, according to the study. In the tri-county region, the estimates for long-term displaced range from 16,800 to 85,300.

Casualties, damage and displacement are expected to be higher if the soil is saturated — in other words, if it has been raining and the ground is soft, as it is for much of the year in northwestern Oregon. An earthquake that strikes during the day is expected to be deadlier as well. The top end of estimates represents the worst-case scenario, in which the soil is saturated and the quake hits during daytime hours.

While the eastern end of the region, including the Gresham area, is not expected to be as hard-hit as Portland and its Westside suburbs, damage is still forecast to be widespread as far as the Cascades.

“Although damage estimates vary widely throughout the study area, no community will be unharmed,” the authors concluded.

Recovering from a Cascadia earthquake won’t be just a matter of putting out fires and stemming floods. There will be region-wide challenges to restore power, bridges and freeways, provide emergency medical care and assure food and water can be delivered.

It will take months just to inspect homes and other damaged buildings to see if they are safe. Meanwhile, many will have to find other shelter, and some work places will have to be closed or relocated.

Local reaction

The Forest Grove Sustainability Commission, which advises the Forest Grove City Council on environmental issues, recently held an event at which Stacy Metzger dispensed earthquake preparedness advice.

Metzger volunteers as the “Map Your Neighborhood” coordinator for Forest Grove Fire & Rescue.

“For Forest Grove alone, the prediction is an earthquake of this size would create $496 million in property damage, 2,200 people in need of shelters, nearly 600 injuries (142 of which would require hospitalization), and 36 fatalities,” Forest Grove Fire & Rescue reported on its official Facebook page, listing some of the projections for the city from the state geologists’ study.

Such an earthquake is hard to imagine and difficult to predict, the agency said, but it would “undoubtedly devastate northwest Oregon.”

“This is a good wake-up call, and it is even more reason to get prepared for a large earthquake,” Metzger said Monday.

Metzger has two degrees in geology and spends a lot of time thinking about earthquake preparedness. But even she can’t predict what an earthquake will look like in her community of Forest Grove when it hits.

“I just say be prepared for the worst, and then you’re prepared for everything or anything, big or small,” she said.

Washington County and the Oregon Office of Emergency Management urge residents to be “two weeks ready,” keeping a two-week supply of necessities on hand in case of a major earthquake that cripples infrastructure and disrupts the transportation network. But Metzger encourages anyone who might find a two-week requirement daunting to start out by building a three-day kit. As she pointed out, you can always add to it later.

Hillsboro city officials have been preparing for a major earthquake for years, according to Tammy Bryan, emergency manager for the Hillsboro Fire Department.

“Prior to the release of this study, the region was reliant on information that was 20 years old,” Bryan said. “While this study does not tell us what will happen to specific homes or businesses, it does give us a greater understanding of potential impacts for our City. This information reinforces the need for continued planning, training, and collaboration to further reduce these impacts and become more resilient.”

When Hillsboro built its new city hall, the Hillsboro Civic Center, in 2005, it was built to withstand a major earthquake. Likewise, the city’s major construction project building a new water supply line from Wilsonville to Hillsboro, is being built to keep water pipes intact, even during an earthquake.

“While the threat of an earthquake may seem daunting, making a plan and identifying things you can do now to prepare can significantly reduce injuries and property damage,” the city wrote on its website about earthquake preparedness.

In the event of an earthquake, city services, such as police and fire, will likely be busy, so officials warn residents to prepare to deal with emergencies until help arrives.

“Emergency preparedness is a shared responsibility,” the city said. “Citizens need to have some basic first aid skills and supplies, and will need to fend for themselves for all but the most severe calls until the demands for service returns to normal.”

In addition to planning emergency kits, city officials urge residents to make homes “earthquake safe” by bolting down and securing water heaters, refrigerators, furnaces and gas appliances, and repairing leaky gas lines and fastening shelves, mirrors and large picture frames to walls.

New software, new findings

The new study shows more severe impacts than previous estimates. But it didn’t bring any surprises or point to any new prevention efforts that haven’t been considered before, said Dan Douthit, spokesman for the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management.

“We’ve already been expecting significant damages,” Douthit said, “and every year that goes by, we get more and more prepared.”

Emergency planners still will focus on the region’s greatest vulnerabilities, including more than 1,600 unreinforced masonry buildings in the city of Portland. Many of the buildings in Forest Grove, one of the region’s oldest cities, feature unreinforced masonry as well.

“We know that unreinforced masonry buildings are likely to collapse, especially during a Cascadia subduction zone earthquake,” Douthit said. “Those pose an immediate life safety risk for people in them and people walking by during an earthquake.”

But the new study, using more sophisticated Hazus software developed for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), enabled scientists to drill down to damages at the neighborhood level as never before. The software is being constantly refined, incorporating real-world experiences from floods and earthquakes taking place around the world.

That enabled scientists to calculate the number of deaths, life-threatening injuries and hospitalizations that will occur in different neighborhood clusters in Portland and cities around the tri-county area.

Scientists now calculate there have been at least 40 large-magnitude earthquakes over the past 10,000 years along the 600-mile-long Cascadia subduction zone off the coasts of Oregon, Washington and Northern California. The most recent one occurred in 1700, and one recent study calculated there is a 15 to 20 percent chance that another one will occur in the next 50 years off the central and northern Oregon Coast.

Though considerably less likely, an earthquake of magnitude 6.8 epicentered in Portland’s West Hills would be even more catastrophic locally — causing more than twice the casualties and damages — according to the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries study.

State geologists plan to release a second phase of their study next year, charting the potential impacts to Columbia County and Clark County, Wash., to the north of the tri-county region.

Mark Miller and Geoff Pursinger contributed to this report.

Read the article here. 

 

Boeckman Road Reopens Tuesday; One Week Ahead Of Schedule, Officials Say

The reopening of Boeckman Road marks another step forward for the Kinsman Road Extension Project, which is set to be complete summer 2018.

Pipeline work won’t disrupt traffic this year

An extension of Kinsman Road is under construction, with the pipeline planned for its right-of-way

The first pieces of the Willamette Water Supply Program (WWSP) pipeline have been laid in the Kinsman Road Extension project.

Created by the Tualatin Valley Water District (TVWD) and the City of Hillsboro, the WWSP is going to tap into the mid-Willamette River at Wilsonville to create additional water supply source for the TVWD and Hillsboro. Although the pipeline will run through Wilsonville, the City of Wilsonville won’t be paying for construction or using the water. The City is, however, partnering with WWSP and funding the $8.3 million Kinsman Road Extension. Negotiations with the WWDP about compensation for the use of the Wilsonville water treatment plant and for other inconveniences the City will undergo are ongoing.

Design for the WWSP started in January 2014 and has been in various phases of design with construction starting in 2016. Despite the City of Tualatin opting out in August and the City of Beaverton still deliberating if they want to be involved in the project, the first steps in the regional water system partnership to supply additional water to the area are underway.

Starting with its intake source at the Wilsonville water treatment plant in the mid-Willamette, the nearly 30-mile stretch of mostly 66-inch diameter water pipeline will have water storage tanks and water intake improvements to the existing water treatment plant.

The construction project began in July with work to extend Kinsman Road, combining existing infrastructure projects to help minimize congestion and reduce expenditures by not having multiple construction crews and management agencies, according to WWSP Media and Community Relations Coordinator Marlys Mock.

For the Kinsman project, a nearly half-mile extension of Kinsman Road, north of Barber Street to Boeckman Road, is set to improve north-south access, improve freight and residential mobility and add bike lanes, sidewalks and nature crossings.

While roadway infrastructure is being added, an upsized sanitary sewer pipe as well as a section of the WWSP water pipeline will be installed in the right-of-way. The estimated $8.3 million Kinsman project is being funded by the City of Wilsonville with partial federal aid assistance from the Federal Highway Administration, providing $3.6 through a combination of two federal grants.

“This cost includes design, property acquisition, permitting and construction for the roadway project,” Civil Engineer Zach Weigel said. “The project also includes upsizing and relocation of a sanitary sewer pipe at an additional total estimated cost of $1.4 million of which no federal grant money is included.”

One of the City’s WWSP project advisors, Mike Kohlhoff, said that the City is still in negotiations with the WWSP about compensation for the use of the water treatment plant and for other inconveniences the City will undergo. Kohlhoff said that they hope to reach an agreement by the end of the year but that there is no set timeline.

Whatever the negotiated figure comes out to be, according to Mock, the project is taking advantage of every cost-cutting measure available without sacrificing quality, including using Portland-based Northwest Pipe Company. By using the local company, the project is saving trucking costs while hauling the 66-inch pipes, benefitting the local economy.

Although the WWSP is priced in total at $1.2 billion, Wilsonville taxpayers shouldn’t be concerned about their taxes increasing.

“It’s not paid by taxes at all,” Mock said. “The project is funded by ratepayers in the TVWD and City of Hillsboro service district area and there’s going to be a bond spread out over time.”

Read original article in the Wilsonville Spokesman