Water restrictions coming in August

Will be in effect while upgrades are performed on city water line

Hood River citizens are going to see water use restrictions later this summer as the city works on upgrading a water line from the city’s water source from a spring near Lost Lake to its 5-million-gallon Riverdale Road reservoir.

The end result will be an upgrade from the city’s current 14-inch pipe to a 24-inch pipe.

But to do the upgrade the city will be swapping the 14-inch pipe to a 12-inch pipe, which will lie alongside the space where the 24-inch line is being put in.

“That will mean we have less flow than we currently have,” said Hood River Public Works Director Mark Lago.

The city must switch to the smaller line during the project because it cannot encroach past its easement around the pipe.

Lago said the city will be sending notices out in the coming weeks detailing what restrictions will be in effect.

Lago said that those restrictions will include odd-numbered houses doing lawn watering on odd-numbered days and even-numbered houses on even days, limiting filling of swimming pools, pressure washing and car washing.

Lago estimates the restrictions will be in effect for about two months beginning the week of Aug. 20 but warned, “It’s construction; things can happen.”

The city will monitor the level of the reservoir during the construction to see if it drops below usual levels during the nighttime, when demand is typically the lowest.

“I don’t feel like there will be (a problem) but I want to play it safe,” Lago said.

The construction is being done in August, to fit it into the city’s usual construction schedule, and because replacing the pipe is easier during the drier months of the year.

Additionally, the sooner the city completes the project, the lower its rates will be on loan repayment for the project.

Lago said the current pipe was installed in the 1920s and has not been upgraded in a while. He said the new pipe being installed would likely serve the city for just as long as its predecessor.

The waterline upgrade is phase two of three upgrades to infrastructure the city has planned using federal funds.

The funds to be used to complete phase three, an additional water line update from Riverdale to Wilson Reservoir, were revoked by the USDA last year.

However, the USDA national appeals director recently upheld the city’s appeal against the USDA to restore the funds. How much of the approximately $10 million dollars which were revoked and when the city gets them remain at the discretion of the USDA.

At the city council meeting on Monday, July 23, City Manager Bob Francis said he was planning on getting in touch with local USDA staff in the coming days to determine the best way for the funds to be restored to the city.

Anyone with questions about the water line construction project in August should contact Hood River Public Works at 541-386-2383.

Also at Monday’s meeting:

n The council held a lengthy discussion on park usage fees.

In recent weeks, several nonprofit groups had asked the city to revisit its fees, following a significant increase in the most recent fee schedule, which was adopted in March.

Under the new fee schedule, the cost for using the city’s waterfront park for an event went from $56 to $500.

Other fee changes included a charge of $56 per event to $75 per day for other areas.

City Manager Bob Francis said the city was struggling to recoup costs from larger events.

“When you are hosting a beer garden down there and all sorts of vendors, the city doesn’t recoup what it should,” Francis said.

He said the current fee schedule didn’t include any tiers or exemptions for nonprofits because “the council has always had the policy of not reducing fees for anybody, because how can you determine which nonprofit cause is more important than another nonprofit cause?”

Council members said they understood the steep fee increase, particularly without much advance notice, could put some groups in a position where they may not raise any money from an event due to the increased fees.

The council was wary of putting into effect any sort of fee waver for nonprofit groups, because controversial nonprofits, such as Westboro Baptist Church, could put the city in an awkward position if they requested a fee waiver.

Francis and council member Kate McBride raised the option of the city evaluating events to be held at city venues, and then choosing to become a sponsor to some, which could help offset the fee increase.

Mayor Arthur Babitz also raised the prospect of having different fee tiers depending on whether the event wanted exclusive use of the park and would be closing it to the general public, or if the park would remain open to the public during the event.

Babitz eventually charged Francis with looking at the park use fees and deciding on additional price points depending on how a park would be used, and also told him “You always have the ability to (have the city) become a sponsor.”

n Francis said he was working to schedule a meeting with ODOT in the coming days to discuss several pending projects, including the Cascade/Rand intersection, Country Club Road realignment, a crosswalk near Les Schwab, and the intersection at 13th and May.

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