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Soapbox: Tigard is being bamboozled with water project

Scott Gerber is a West Linn resident.

I am responding to the June 20 letter from former Tigard mayor, Craig Dirksen. It is unfortunate that the citizens of Tigard are being bamboozled into paying for this ill conceived project that is being sold as the panacea for regional water needs.

Mr. Dirksen claims that the cities of Lake Oswego and Tigard will be saving “tens of millions of dollars over the next 25 to 50 years by partnering. This reduces costs to ratepayers over the long term.”  

The LOT partnership has been promoting this myth, but, in fact, there is no evidence to support this claim. Water rates in both cities have been increasing and will no doubt continue to do so to support this behemoth.

Tigard currently gets excellent water from Bull Run and could have much more easily tapped into Wilsonville’s state-of-the-art plant. Yes, I know it is in Tigard’s charter that it requires a vote to use Willamette River water as a drinking source, but it’s time to move into the current century. Coca Cola is producing Dasani water from the Wilsonville plant. Yet Tigard will be tapping an over allocated Clackamas River to which it holds no water rights.

Mr. Dirksen’s states that “It is the region’s shared vision for smart water supply planning and environmental responsibility. Keeping costs low for residents and working together on environmental enhancement, watershed protection and disaster preparedness are smart goals that know no jurisdictional boundaries.” As near as I can tell, there is not one element of this statement that is fulfilled by this project.  

They all could have been achieved by looking into alternative sites and plans, yet LOT steadfastly refused to do this. “Environmental enhancement” began with the destruction of 200 trees in the Robinwood neighborhood. “Watershed protection” pulls water that could be obtained elsewhere from an overused source. “Disaster preparedness” puts an industrial facility in a residential area that is a known seismic red zone.

Although Tigard and LO ratepayers will pay the monetary price of this mismanagement by public officials, it is West Linn that will pay the dearest price. Along with the absurdity of building the plant in a red zone, the three-year invasion of a neighborhood, disruption of traffic and businesses, loss of property value and degradation of lifestyle is a toll that many West Linn residents and its planning commission considered too great a price. Unfortunately, West Linn’s leaders bent to a $5 million “use fee” and sold the city’s codes and citizens “down the river.”

Now, contracts are being awarded, and Mr. Dirksen claims that construction has begun although LOT denies this when asked to come up with settlement fees by the neighbors they have sued. I can only hope that someone in the money chain will ask about the lawsuits that are yet to be settled and the LUBA appeal, which could set this project back, or the permits that have yet to be obtained. I can only hope that this giant will indeed stumble and fall to the ignoble demise that it so deserves.

Get on your soapbox

The Times offers a soapbox to stand on every week in our Opinion section. The soapbox is a guest column written by any reader on any local issue of public interest. They should be no longer than 800 words (about three double-spaced typewritten pages) and should include the signature, address and phone number of the writer. Soapboxes are due Mondays at noon and can be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .




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