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The future of Hillsboro’s water and roads the topic of Tuesday meetings

by andrew Theen, the Oregonian
HILLSBORO — Hillsboro’s roadways and water supply dominated conversation on Tuesday night as the City Council signed off on a plan for proposed roadways and heard an update from city Water Department officials about how to address future needs.
The fifth-largest city in Oregon is expected to continue to grow, and expanding road capacity in the city’s north industrial area is a priority. As is addressing the city’s water supply. The Hillsboro Utilities Commission governs municipal water systems, according to the city charter, but Water Department officials briefed the council at a work session on Tuesday.
“This isn’t an emergency situation,” Tacy Steele, water public information officer, told the council. “We have time to make really good decisions.”
Public Meetings
– Oct. 25 (for South Hillsboro) Civic Center, 150 E. Main Street, Room 113B & C, 6–7:30 p.m.
– Nov. 7 (bilingual, for Hispanic Community, Lincoln Street Elementary School, 801 N.E. Lincoln Street, 6-7:30 p.m.
– Nov. 14 (for North Hillsboro) Main Library, 2850 N.E. Brookwood Pkwy, Community Room, 6– 7:30 p.m.
The department is eyeing a plan to secure water supply for the next 50 years, although actual construction is likely more than a decade away. Steele is leading the department’s ongoing outreach efforts, and she acknowledged getting people to think about water issues is difficult.
The department is in the preliminary stages of pinpointing a “preferred” water source, and five options are being examined. The department advocates using the Willamette River as another water resource to accommodate growth. The commission is expected to make a decision early in 2013 on which option to explore.
Water Department director Kevin Hanway said the city’s current water source, the Tualatin River, will be fine until around 2025. The city peaks at 30 million gallons of water a day in the summer months, Hanway said, but that is expected to soar as the region grows. Hillsboro also taps into Hagg Lake and Barney Reservoir as needed.
The so-called mid-Willamette River option is near Wilsonville. Hanway notes that Wilsonville and Sherwood both use the river. The department analyzed each project on factors like cost, reliability, ownership and environmental impact.
Each of the five proposed locations factors in other municipalities or government partners contributing to the bill.
The mid-Willamette option is the cheapest of the five and Hillsboro’s share projects to be upwards of $370 million, according to Hanway. The total estimated cost is $870 million. The department also looked at the South Willamette, Portland, and using groundwater as possible water sources.
The long-discussed and analyzed Tualatin Basin Water Supply project, which calls for raising the Scoggins Dam by 40 feet, is also on the short list. Hanway said that “reliability is an issue for that project” which is dependent on the federal government and wouldn’t accommodate future growth beyond the dam build-out. A seismic study of the dam is expected out this month. The projected price tag, according to water department officials, is upwards of $1 billion.
During the council session, the city approved a resolution that amended the city’s transportation system plan for the North Hillsboro Industrial area. The plan, which serves a blueprint for the city’s future transportation projects, needed approval prior to an Oregon Transportation Commission meeting regarding the $45 million Brookwood Parkway/Helvetia Road interchange project. 
The council approved a first reading of transportation plans for the AmberGlen community. The plan calls for road extensions and realignments of several roads in the planned community in Northeast Hillsboro. A second reading is expected for Oct. 16.

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