November 2019 Water System Improvement Projects **Update**

The water infrastructure project has been a long slog and will continue to be as we go into the holiday season. Do not expect to get a lot accomplished the last week of November or anything between December 20th - January 5th. We are working with many state and Federal agencies and they won't do much during those times due to the holidays. So, it is safe to assume we'll lose a month in our overall schedule. With that as prologue, here's what else is happening.

 

*** UPDATE as of 4 PM Nov 13, 2019 *** The City has gone to bid on the Water Reservoir with a notice in the News Register. Bids are accepted until December 10th. The Emergency Filter Improvements bid documents will be ready by the end of this week and should be out to bid by the end of next week.***

Next, the archaeologists completed their site work and field dig. They have released a preliminary report, that is neither official nor final. The results were mixed. The area around the Water Treatment Plant (WTP) came back with a preliminary finding of "nothing significant to report." This means that the archaeological team hasn't (yet) found anything of interest and does not believe further analysis will turn up anything. Unfortunately, the area along the proposed pipeline's path from the river to the WTP does have a preliminary finding of significance. This means that the archaeological team will recommend that we develop a mitigation plan before proceeding.

The archaeologists are still doing lengthy scientific analysis of their work and therefore, will not deliver their final report of findings (and all associated documentation) until the end of March 2020! Only then will the City and City Engineers know the size, scope, and complexity of any mitigation plan. Any plans will need to be agreed to by USDA/RD, Grande Ronde tribal leadership, the State of Oregon, and (possibly) other state/federal agencies. Also, it is highly likely we will need to complete the mitigation plan before we can proceed with any part of the project identified as linked to the areas of significant archaeological findings. It is City Staff's estimate that this archaeological process alone will push the pipeline and WTP portion of the project back by approximately 6 months.

In a related water project, the City is approved for a 50% loan and 50% grant totaling nearly $400,000 to remove our water main from under the Salt Creek (Hwy 153) Bridge west of town and reroute it under the river. (This will facilitate ODOT's requirement to repair the bridge.) Although the City and the Mayor hoped for more grant money, this is the best we can get considering the City's fiscal situation and desire not to modify our current $5.579 million USDA/RD & CDBG funding. Still, the interest on the offered loan is way lower than most offers to cities in this situation. Credit for that goes to the Mayor and Public Works for their initial efforts in early negotiations with the State of Oregon. Our City Engineers have started scoping the work for this project and it is likely we can begin all of the required preliminary work - assessments, contracting, bidding, etc - beginning in January. Although this will take months (most of 2020) to complete.

However, to end on good news, it is highly likely that the City will complete the Emergency Filter replacement by the end of January and we are still on track to start "turning dirt" at the reservoir around March 2020 completing the work before the end of 2020. Our initial estimate is that we can start the pipe removal and relocation at Salt Creek Bridge work at the end of 2020 or early 2021.

Yes, this is a slog, but we're making progress! And we've made a lot of that progress in the last few months.