June 12, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

EWEB thanks Southeast residents as new water tanks come online

3 min read
Laura Farthing: “We want to acknowledge and appreciate nearby residents who have endured two years of noise and dust and other impacts to their lives so that everyone in Eugene can have a more resilient drinking water system.”

by Jen Connors, Eugene Water and Electric Board 

The Eugene Water and Electric Board marked a major milestone recently by completing the construction of new drinking water storage tanks and pipelines that are built to withstand a major earthquake and will help supply drinking water to all of Eugene.

The project includes two 7.5-million-gallon concrete water storage tanks near East 40th and Patterson Street and more than 2,500 feet of new 36-inch pipeline connecting the tanks to the water system near Hilyard Steet and Dillard Road. Last month, EWEB completed the final crucial steps to bring the new water storage tanks and pipelines online.

The tanks and pipelines serve everyone in Eugene, from the South Hills to downtown to Bethel to Ferry Street Bridge.

“Since this project began, our north star has been to complete the work as quickly and safely as possible. Despite many challenges, EWEB was able to keep the project largely on schedule, meeting our commitment to neighbors and our community,” said Laura Farthing, EWEB senior engineer and project manager. “We want to acknowledge and appreciate nearby residents who have endured two years of noise and dust and other impacts to their lives so that everyone in Eugene can have a more resilient drinking water system.”

With tank construction complete, EWEB can move on to the next phases of work. The area around the tanks is being backfilled so that only about 12-15 feet of concrete remains visible. The tanks will then be fenced and screened with vegetation.

EWEB will also restore parts of the 11-acre property to enhance native flora, including an Oak Woodland which is considered a “Strategy Habitat” under Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Oregon Conservation Strategy.

EWEB is investing more than $200 million in major water infrastructure projects over the next 10 years with the goal of ensuring reliable water service even during a major natural disaster. Upgraded EWEB infrastructure is designed to withstand major earthquakes such as the one scientists predict will originate from the Cascadia Subduction Zone at any time in the coming decades.

New water storage tanks are constructed out of reinforced, prestressed concrete and are wrapped with high-strength steel wire. The tanks are designed to flex without breaking during a seismic event and the piping is constructed out of welded steel, one of the most seismically robust materials available, which can have a lifespan of over 100 years.

EWEB’s Water System Master Plan aims to replace all of Eugene’s base-level water reservoirs with new, seismically resilient storage tanks. Within a few months, EWEB will begin dismantling the leaky and antiquated College Hill Reservoir and replacing it with new, modern drinking water storage tanks identical to those just completed near East 40th Ave.

Pipeline work will continue through the summer of 2024 on Hilyard Street from around Tugman Park to East 33rd Avenue. Local residents and businesses will have access during construction, but travelers should expect traffic delays and detours, including sidewalk and bike lane closures on the stretch of Hilyard between Dillard Road and East 33rd Avenue.

More information about drinking water reliability projects can be found on the EWEB website at EWEB.org/WaterReliability.

About the Eugene Water & Electric Board

The Eugene Water & Electric Board is Oregon’s largest customer-owned utility. Founded in 1911, EWEB provides water and electricity to approximately 96,000 customers in the Eugene-Springfield area. EWEB’s service area covers 236 square miles with a population of more than 200,000 people, including major institutions such as the University of Oregon.

A five-member elected Board of Commissioners governs the utility, which does not operate to earn a profit or to serve the investment needs of stockholders. Employing approximately 500 people, EWEB serves the people of Eugene by embodying core values of safety, reliability, affordability, environmental responsibility and community/culture.

EWEB owns four energy generation facilities, including hydroelectric projects on the McKenzie and Clackamas Rivers, and leads watershed protection measures with local landowners and environmental organizations. With one of the greenest energy supplies in the nation, approximately 90% of EWEB’s power comes from carbon-free sources, and EWEB is committed to achieving a 95% carbon-free energy portfolio by 2030.

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