A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Sewer project on the Clark Path

Written March 2nd, 2018 by Hasso Hering

Shot on Aug. 8, this is the spot on the Clark Path where the city plans to build a sewer lift station.

City engineers in Albany are planning a $13 million sewer project they hope will prevent overflows into the Willamette River during heavy wintertime rainstorms. It will also force a change in the riverfront Dave Clark Path and, likely as not, cut into new pavement on Water Avenue.

The city plans to build a “wet weather lift station” on a 32-by-40-foot site across the Clark path just west of the Wheelhouse parking lot. From the lift station, it plans to construct a sewer “force main” down Water Avenue all the way to Geary Street, and from there down Front Avenue toward the Davidson Street gate of the Albany-Millersburg sewage treatment plant.

The project is intended to take some of the load off the city’s biggest sewer, the Riverfront Interceptor built in the 1950s to drain most of central Albany. During heavy storms, the Interceptor occasionally overflows into the Willamette, a violation that could subject the city to state enforcement action.

The project has not yet been designed. When it is, it will presumably include a way for the popular walking and bike path to continue around the new lift station.

The eastern few blocks of Water Avenue were repaved in 2013 and 2014 at a city cost of about $285,000. This was done in conjunction with the Portland & Western Railroad rebuilding its track running down the middle of the street. Jeff Blaine, director of public works engineering, says the repaving “was not intended to be a long-term solution like you see for our major reconstruction projects.”

When the construction is done, in a year or two, it likely will also affect the Hill Street intersection of Water, now being rebuilt by the developer of the Edgewater Village project.

This week, the Albany City Council approved an agreement calling on the city to borrow $13 million to pay for the sewer project. The loan from the state Department of Environmental Quality is for 20 years at 1 percent annual interest and a 0.5 percent fee on remaining principal. This yields an annual debt payment of about $750,000. The cost to the city will be more than offset by the expiration or reduction in payments on previous city debts, the council was told.

This big sewer project is necessary to fix a recurrent problem, overflows into the river, so the disruption it will cause can’t be helped. Let’s just hope that the problem really will get fixed once and for all. (hh)


9 responses to “Sewer project on the Clark Path”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Is voter approval of this debt required under the requirements of CHAPTER IX, Section 44 of the City Charter?

    If the voter approval override in Paragraph d is cited, what Oregon statute authorizes the borrowing?

    • Hasso Hering says:

      I doubt it but I’ll check.

      • Hasso Hering says:

        I’ve checked, and the loan appears to be authorized by Oregon state law regardless of what it says in the Albany charter. Section 468.439 says a public agency may borrow money from the DEQ’s Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund “notwithstanding any limitation in any other provision of law or local charter.” This provision appears to override any local requirements regarding loans. (hh)

  2. tom cordier says:

    email to City attorney Sean Kidd
    Hello Sean– Resolution 6667 seems to violate Charter section 44 Debt Limit, a) ….”..or any other contract in which a party agrees to advance money to the City in exchange for the City’s agreement to repay the advanced funds with interest over a period on more that thirteen months.”

    Section 44 places a financial liability placed on councilors if this is violated.

    I am aware of Section 3 a) language of Res 6667 which attempts to go around the Charter language.

    Please advise by end of day Monday 3/5, since I am under a time constraint to file objections in Linn County Court.

    • Hasso Hering says:

      See my reply to Shadle below (or above, as the case may be). Take a look at ORS 468.439 and save yourself the Circuit Court filing fee. (hh)

  3. Ms J says:

    Was waiting for this to happen.

    In 2009, 70 million plus was spent on a new wastewater treatment plant (that is still half-functional) to prevent sewer overflows with no regard or thought to the system of pipes/pump stations that get the wastewater there.

    Meanwhile 9 years later & counting, sewage still spews into the Willamette River and now 13 million more is needed to fix things. I wouldn’t count on things being fixed, as Albany accountability is rarely a standard practice.

    Though this problem needs to be fixed, I question the competence of current City staffing considering their track record over the last ten years or so. I fully expect my sewer rates to go up again to pay for more incompetence.

    Just how many sewer overflows have occurred since 2009?
    Does anyone know this answer?

    • centrist says:

      Take a breath. Yup, the treatment plant hasn’t worked as intended. Blamestorming never fixed a real-world problem.
      Building a collector without a place to treat would have a gross error.

      • Ms J says:

        Call it blamestorming if you will, I see it more as chronic failure involving tens of millions of dollars over multiple projects & no end to this in sight. Staffing changes are needed or more taxpayer money is wasted to correct errors.

        You need both a collector and a treatment plant for the system to work, otherwise you are trying to run a race with one leg & results in this case are not pretty nor environmentally sound.

  4. Bob Woods says:

    Gordon and Tom are quite a pair. Lawsuits laced with indignation are just the thing to make sure that raw sewage continues to flow into creeks and rivers.

    “It’s an ill bird that fouls its own nest.”


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