Hillsboro turns to Willamette for future water

Construction in progress on the Hillsboro water reservoir, July 8, 2013 (KOIN 6 News/Matt Bell)
Construction in progress on the Hillsboro water reservoir, July 8, 2013 (KOIN 6 News/Matt Bell)

HILLSBORO, Ore. (KOIN) — Some Hillsboro residents could see their water bill go up in a few months if the Hillsboro Utility Commission votes to approve a proposed increase Tuesday.

“We’re making a decision today that makes sure Hillsboro has water 40 and 50 years from now,” said Kevin Hanway, director of the Hillsboro Water Department.

And city officials believe a rate hike is needed to ensure municipal water will be available in the future to Hillsboro homes.

Construction in progress on the Hillsboro water reservoir, July 8, 2013 (KOIN 6 News/Matt Bell)
Construction in progress on the Hillsboro water reservoir, July 8, 2013 (KOIN 6 News/Matt Bell)

It’s all about planning and staying ahead of demand, Hanway said. That’s why a new water reservoir is being built right now. It’s also why the city of Hillsboro is investing in the Willamette River as its future water supply.

“We project that, in the next 30 years out, water demands are going to more than double,” Hanway said.

At that rate, Hillsboro’s current water supply — from such places as Hagg Lake and Barney Reservoir — will hold up for only about the next 15 years, Hanway told KOIN 6 News.

So the utility commission approved a plan in February to tap the Willamette River, one of four options they studied.

“It’s a decision that’s made in the interest of the public in terms of water quality and cost,” Hanway said.

The plan calls for building a 26-mile pipeline from Wilsonville to Hillsboro, Ore. A rate increase for customers has been proposed to help pay for it.

“Our projection — based on a typical residential customer — is that the water portion of their bill will go up by $1.60 a month,” Hanway said.

That’s a 6.6% increase. Commercial customers and irrigation users would see the largest increase, at 9% and 25% respectively.

PROPOSED  WATER RATE INCREASE

Hillsboro Utilities Commission

Residential 6.6%
Multi-Family 1.4%
Commercial 9.0%
Industrial 6.2%
Irrigation 25.0%
Public Entities 10.75%

But, as one woman KOIN 6 News talked to said, she just figures a rate increase as par for the course: “I don’t worry about it,” she said. “You have to have it so….”

The rate increase would go into effect in October. That’s the same time the city’s new reservoir goes into service.

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