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  • 19 Sep 2014

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Rising water causing havoc on Willamette, Clackamas rivers

You can blame stormy weather this week for noisy emergency dam construction along the Clackamas River and for forcing sewage-warning signs along the Willamette.

by: PHOTO COURTESY: CITY OF LAKE OSWEGO - A crane lowers workers in a basket to examine breached sheet piles for Lake Oswego's pump-station project.Oak Lodge Sanitary District’s plant bypassed treatment of approximately 440,000 gallons of sewage into the Willamette due to a power outage at approximately 11 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 16. District officials say that an electrical component failure prevented a backup generator from starting before power was restored at approximately 12:30 a.m. And they say that due to high river levels, sewage also spewed from a manhole along the 900 block of Courtney Avenue in Oak Grove.

In the case of Lake Oswego’s water intake pumping station currently under construction on the Clackamas River, heavy rains over the weekend probably contributed to a breach on the bank side of the cofferdam, causing it to fill with water. Slayden Construction Group, the city’s selected contractor for the new pump on the Gladstone side of the river across from Oregon City, completed the temporary cofferdam in September to allow dry work to be done under the level that would normally be underwater.

As soon as crews worked to reinstall sheet piles to repair the breach earlier this week, they encountered a larger breach on the side facing the river coming through Wednesday afternoon.

According to Jane Heisler, spokeswoman for the city of Lake Oswego’s project, the cause of the collapse along the 100 block of East Clackamas Boulevard has not been confirmed. Lake Oswego was working with engineers Thursday to assess the situation and deal with the breach.

“Our main concern right now is to make sure that whatever condition it’s in right now, it’s safe,” she said. “We’re letting sheriff’s patrols know to keep people out in those areas, but that not really an issue right now with no one wanting to jump in the river.”

Heisler said that crews had done enough work thus far on the station itself that they could continue working on the facility despite the breach. Heisler expected the contractor would only be set back a couple days, and the new facilities are still scheduled to be operational by July 2016. The new station will pump 38 million gallons of water a day, replacing one that currently pumps 16 million gallons. The new system will pump Clackamas River water under the Willamette to a treatment plant in West Linn, before being distributed to Lake Oswego and Tigard.

Neighbors may notice an increase in noise and vibrations as crews work to repair the cofferdam. People with questions or concerns can contact the Project Hotline at 503-697-6502, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.lotigardwater.org