The Lake Oswego Tigard Water Partnership works every day to prepare for emergencies, adapt to changing conditions, and prepare for the future. All of this work contributes to a more resilient water system and region.
November is National Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month, a time to recognize the vital role that water infrastructure (like pipes, reservoirs, and treatment facilities) plays in keeping your water safe and available, now and in the future. In order to make our water system more resilient, we work together with other water providers to share resources, conduct trainings, maintain emergency contacts, and keep our region’s water safe for generations to come.
It’s hard to imagine a day without water: from the time we wake up to the time we fall asleep, water plays a key role in almost every aspect of our daily routine. But on October 21, we’re celebrating Imagine a Day Without Water by inviting you to learn more about where your water comes from and what it takes to make sure your drinking water is safe and there when you need it.
Over the last 18 months, we have faced multiple crises and emergencies with the pandemic, wildfires, drought, ice storm, and even a chlorine supply shortage. Throughout these emergencies, our water treatment plant operators and public works professionals have kept clean drinking water flowing to homes, hospitals, fire hydrants, schools, and businesses.
These crises demonstrate the critical role that water and wastewater systems play in our daily lives, protecting public health, safeguarding the environment, fighting fires, making a healthy economy possible, and supporting our quality of life.
Water and wastewater utilities are often called the “invisible utility” because customers see can’t the pipes and other infrastructure that brings water to their tap, or what takes it away: it’s so easy to take it for granted. In fact, many people never think about what goes into providing safe, reliable water and wastewater service to their home or business unless there’s a problem. Fortunately, the Lake Oswego Tigard Water Partnership works hard to ensure our customers have safe, reliable water 24 hours a day, every day. This requires constant care and management of a complex network of water infrastructure and extensive planning to address population growth, new and changing regulations, seismic hazards, climate change, and more.
October 21 is the seventh annual Imagine a Day Without Water, an opportunity to reflect on the value of water and its central role in everything we do. Join us in taking some extra time to think about how you value our region’s water today, and every day.
This past summer was one of our longest, warmest and driest summers we have had in a while. But summer is now over, our days are shorter, nights are longer, and it is much cooler: fall is here! Plants are going into their dormant stage which means they do not need any supplemental water. For those of you who let your lawns go dormant during the summer and did not water (thank you), you are seeing your lawns beginning to turn green again.
If you haven’t already done so all of this means it is time to turn off your outdoor irrigation systems and drain them for the winter to prevent freezing.
Putting Your Irrigation System to Bed for the Winter
Water left in the pipes of your irrigation system can freeze over winter, causing damage to the entire system. You owe it to yourself to make an annual habit of winterizing your irrigation system. That means removing the remaining water from the pipes so there’s nothing to expand when temperatures dip down below freezing. There are three basic methods for draining water from your irrigation system. Which method you should use will depend on the type of irrigation system you have.
Manual Valve Systems
Some irrigation systems are equipped with manual drainage that allows you to empty excess water from the system by simply opening a valve. If you have such a system, shut off the supply of water to the system, look for the manual valves at the ends and low points of the piping. Open all of the valves and drain the water from the system, including the backflow assembly.
Automatic Valve Systems
Other irrigation systems are equipped with valves that will automatically drain water out of the pipes if pressure falls below a certain number of pounds per square inch (PSI). These can be activated by turning off the water supply and briefly running one of the sprinkler heads to relieve the water pressure in the system. You may still need to drain the water between the shut off valve and the backflow assembly. If the sprinkler heads are equipped with check valves, you will need to empty those separately.
Irrigation System Blow-Out
The final method of winterizing your irrigation system is to force compressed air through the system to discharge excess water through the sprinkler heads. This method is potentially hazardous, both to the wrong types of irrigation systems and to anyone who attempts to do this without taking the proper safety precautions. If you’ve never worked with compressed air or have blown out an irrigation system, we highly recommend you hire a licensed landscape professional for assistance.
Winterizing your irrigation system is a critical part of annual irrigation system maintenance. It can save you from having to pay for the repair of costly leaks and water line breaks in the spring. Visit the Clackamas River Water Providers for more information about how to protect your home water systems from freezing and more outdoor water conservation tips.
The entire state of Oregon is experiencing drought conditions. More than 85% of the state is in a severe drought or worse, including Clackamas County. With river levels being low, it’s more important than ever to be more mindful in how we use our water this summer! Here are some simple water-wise tips to consider.
Over half of all water use inside a home takes place in the bathroom:
Turn off the tap while shaving or brushing teeth.
Take shorter showers. Each minute you shave off your shower time saves up to 2.5 gallons of water.
Install a high efficiency showerhead, and you could save about 1 gallon of water per minute.
In the kitchen:
Scrape your plate instead of rinsing it before loading it into the dishwasher.
Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of letting the faucet run until the water is cool.
Install an aerator on your kitchen faucet and save about 1 gallon per minute. An aerator reduces the flow from the faucet, and uses air to maintain good water pressure.
If you have a dishwasher, use it only to wash full loads and use the shortest cycle possible. Many dishwashers have a conserver/water-miser cycle.
Water use almost doubles during summer, primarily due to outdoor water use:
Adjust and monitor sprinklers to keep water on the areas that need it –not the street or driveway. Or hand water! Watering by hand allows you to really target where and how much you water.
Cut the number of days you water your grass by a third, rather than for a short period every day. Watering thoroughly, but infrequently, will help roots go deeper, resulting in more water–efficient, drought–tolerant plants.
Try to water your garden or landscape before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. when temperatures are cooler and the air is calmer so that evaporation is kept to a minimum.
Do not over-water in anticipation of a shortage. Soil cannot store extra water.
Great news: yesterday, our water treatment plant received a shipment of chlorine! Our call for a reduction in water usage is now lifted, but we can all still continue to use water wisely and not waste our precious resource.
Thank you, Lake Oswego and Tigard water customers for doing your part to reduce water usage during our recent regional chlorine shortage. It really did make a difference.
With the record-setting heat and severe drought, being mindful of our water usage, watering smart, and conserving where we can is more important than ever. Every drop counts!
THANK YOU for doing your part by reducing your water usage and being great stewards of our water. We are seeing a reduction in demand, which is not only helping extend our existing chlorine supply, but it is also helping keep more water in the river for fish and recreation. Keep up the great work!
Together, we are also doing our part by reducing water use throughout our cities’ operations and parks. Every drop counts!
The next few days are going to be a scorcher with record-setting hot temperatures. While we can report some great news that the chlorine facility in Longview is now back online, we are still waiting to receive a delivery at our water treatment plant. Our request for voluntary reduction in water usage in LO and Tigard remains in place.
With that in mind, here are some common sense H20 tips and ideas:
💦 Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Don’t forget about your pets!
💦 Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator for drinking instead of waiting for the water from the tap to get cold.
💦 If you are watering landscaping, do it early in the morning before 10 a.m. or late at night to reduce evaporation – avoid the hottest times of the day.
💦 Avoid washing your car – it’s an easy way to conserve water and avoid the heat.
💦 Postpone new plantings – they don’t like the extreme heat either!
💦 Check all your indoor faucets, toilets and pipes for leaks – a faucet drip or invisible leak in a toilet can add up to over 100 gallons per week.
A critical chlorine supply issue has recently created a shortage for west coast and Oregon utilities. Our water treatment method uses chlorine (sodium hypochlorite) in very small amounts to ensure our water is safe to drink. The chlorine shortage in our area is caused by an equipment failure at a chlorine manufacturing facility on the West Coast.
To get the chlorine supply we need, the cities of Lake Oswego and Tigard are working directly with other water utilities, the Oregon Governor’s Office, Oregon Emergency Management, Oregon Health Authority, Department of Environmental Quality, and the Oregon Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network and federal authorities.
Our Lake Oswego-Tigard tap water remains safe to drink.
Staff have implemented measures to extend chlorine supply, while also ensuring that the water remains safe to drink.
Please Reduce Water Usage
We ask for the cooperation of customers to voluntarily reduce their indoor and outdoor water usage. These actions will help extend our existing supply of chlorine, reduce the strain on the supply chain, preserve water for domestic use, and ensure water reserves continue to meet emergency response needs. Conserving voluntarily now, will help minimize potential mandatory conservation.
What can you do to help?
You can help extend the current chlorine supply by using water wisely. How to limit your water usage:
Reduce all non-essential water use – except as necessary for public health and safety
Limit watering lawns, using irrigation, washing cars and filling swimming pools
Postpone new plantings
Eliminate known leaks inside and outside
Take shorter showers
Turn off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving
Limit running the dishwasher or washing machine – if you have to run it, ensure it is full
If you wash dishes by hand, don’t leave the water running
These voluntary usage reductions will remain in place until the chain of supply for sodium hypochlorite has been reestablished.