Grateful for fall rains and a resilient water supply!
It’s finally starting to feel like fall here in the Pacific Northwest. Rain has returned and we anticipate reservoirs filling during the winter.
While we’ve been concerned about drought in Oregon recently, other areas of the country have been dealing with an overabundance of the wet stuff. Heavy rains can sometimes cause localized flooding, which can affect the safety of water supplies - like last month’s Tropical Storm Joaquin, which caused record-breaking flooding in South Carolina and damaged pipelines that supply drinking water. This resulted in “boil water” alerts for hundreds of thousands of people.
Although tropical storms aren’t a threat in Oregon, flooding can still happen when heavy rains and/or snowmelt oversaturate the ground and overflow creeks and rivers. As one example, the Willamette Valley Flood of 1996 interfered with drinking water supplies’ treatment operations in several local communities.
Water treatment processes, like those performed by the Willamette River Water Treatment Plant in Wilsonville, are robust and allow operators to clean water to safe drinking water standards —even during flood events when waters are turbid and brown from silt and other debris. However, what water providers really depend on is having alternative sources in case one water source is compromised in some way by localized flooding, or any other event that interferes with timely water delivery. Because flooding tends to be localized, the odds are good that one source will still be operational, even if another source is impeded by broken mains or flooded facilities.
When completed, the Willamette Water Supply System (WWSS) will provide additional security for the Washington County region and beyond during stormy weather – by providing needed redundancy to existing supplies.
Mobilization continues on track at the Willamette Water Supply Program office with the development of the Program Management Plan. This document will guide the work of designing, public outreach, permitting, and building the WWSS through its completion in 2026. Construction on the 124th Avenue road and pipeline will begin this spring. Preliminary design on the remaining 30 plus miles of pipeline is anticipated to be complete in early 2016. Additional design and permitting work will continue on the pipeline and related projects for several years.
Marlys Mock, Community Affairs Coordinator, 971-235-7336