The Tualatin Valley Water District‘s newly adopted plan to tap into the Willamette River as the district’s need for water grows would require a public vote to move forward.
The district’s board of commissioners voted 4-0 Wednesday to select the Willamette as its long-term water source. The district would partner with Hillsboro, which voted to adopt the same long-term strategy in February.
The two agencies plan to build a water treatment plant in Wilsonville and a pipeline to transport the water to Washington County. The project could be implemented by 2025.
However, a 2001 water district ordinance states that the district will not provide its customers with Willamette River water unless an election is held on the issue.
For the project to move forward, the district would either need to hold an election or repeal the ordinance, said Todd Heidgerken, manager of community and intergovernmental relations for the district.
Up until last week’s vote, the district’s focus was on which long-term strategy it would adopt, not on the details of implementing the strategy, Heidgerken said.
The cost of holding an election and potential election dates were not factored into the district’s evaluation, he said. The Tualatin Valley Water District projected its part of the Willamette project cost to be $408.3 million.
Elections can cost between 75 cents and $1 per voter, according to the Washington County Elections Division.
The district serves more than 200,000 residents in Beaverton, Hillsboro, Tigard and unincorporated Washington County. Its service population is expected to grow by more than 100,000 by 2050.
— Nicole Friedman