Where did the Lake go?

Sewer CoverOne of the things that I always explain to anyone buying a home in Lake Oswego, and particularly a lakefront home, is that the lake has a history of routine maintenance that occasionally requires a draw down of the water level.

For years this was done every other winter. Remember that while there is a natural lake area that is fed by the Tualatin River, much of the lake was enlarged by man and the water level is controlled via the in-take gate at the Tualatin River and the dam along McVey Avenue.

In the past the reason for the draw down was to allow homeowners to repair seawalls and do maintenance on their boat houses. It was also used as a way to flush the lake of water that had grown stagnant and re-fill it with new water to help control the build up of algea.

Then a few years ago the Lake Corporatation installed aerators that added oxygen to the water and lessened the need for such frequent draw downs as a means of keeping the lake clean. So it has been awhile since there has been a draw down of the lake water.

That will be changing in the fall of 2010.

Beginning this fall, the City of Lake Oswego is in the preliminary stages of what is known as the Lake Oswego Interceptor Sewer Project. Basically, the sewer that now serves 2/3 of the city is submerged 14 to 21 feet under the lake. It was built in the 1960’s and is vulnerable to earthquake damage as well as being too small to accommodate the needs of the community. So a new interceptor will be constructed and that is going to have an impact on how the lake looks and how we are able to use it.

There will be 3 phases to the construction. Phase one is beginning now. It involves obtaining permits, securing funding, and obtaining bids. This is all the paper shuffling stuff, and while citizen input is encouraged, unless you make an effort to get involved, you won’t see anything different happening.

Phase two is in-lake construction that can be done from barges without drawing down the water. This phase is expected to begin in early 2009 and last about a year. During this phase you will see numerous barges on the lake and you will also see construction access points and large quantities of materials being stored at various locations. Access points are expected to be at the Alder Point and the Maple Circle easements.

The last phase is when the water draw down is to occur. This phase is expected to begin in September of 2010 and be completed by Spring of 2011. The idea is to have it completed by summer to allow the normal summer use of the lake. As with all construction projects, I’d advise being a bit flexible on that one. Construction access points will expand to also include the Lake Corporation Marina on McVey Avenue, the Allen Road Easement, and the Northshore Bridge Easement.

For full details on the Sewer Interceptor Project click here.

So don’t be surprised when there is an occasional draw down of the lake level. It has happened many times over the years, and it will certainly be happening in the near future.

Electric cars in Lake Oswego? You bet!

Lake Oswego Electric Car Charging StationI was pleasantly surprised yesterday morning to find an article on the front page of the Clackamas County edition of the Oregonian featuring a story about the new electric-car, plug-in charging station that is now in Lake Oswego.

Located on A Avenue, it is right in the heart of the downtown shopping and dining district. If you own an electric car, you can park at the curb and charge your car for FREE.

The station is one of 5 that PGE has installed in the State of Oregon. Their hope is to have 12 stations established in anticipation of car manufacturers rolling out new lines of hybrid/plug-in vehicles by 2010. For the details from PGE, click here to link to their website.

The new station in Lake Oswego was paid for by the City of Lake Oswego at a cost of about $5000. The September 23rd Oregonian quotes Lake Oswego Mayor Judie Hammerstad as saying “This is a big step forward in sustainability and reducing carbon emissions.” The article goes on to explain that the electricity that will be used will be paid for in a partnership with the City of Lake Oswego and local businesses. The hope is that while drivers will frequent the area to charge up their cars, they will also stay in the area to shop, dine, and support local businesses.

I know that I am totally excited about the changes that the high cost of gas are creating in the auto manufacturing industry. I intend to stay in my 4-year old, 80,000 mile car for another year or two in anticipation of the better choices for hybrids and plug-in hybrids that will be offered to consumers in the next few years. I think this is something that should have happened years ago, and I am glad that consumer demand is pressing the changes.

If you’d like a little background on electric cars, I highly recommend the 2006 documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? Produced by Papercut Films, it won many awards at film festivals throughout 2006 and 2007. It tells a fascinating tale about a successful electric car that was built years ago and then pulled from the market. It will also show you how doable the electric car is. Not only does it have no emissions, it has no maintenance along the lines of oil changes or filter changes, and it makes no sound.

It is my understanding that the average trip in an auto is under 50 miles. I think the ideal car would be a plug-in hybrid. It would operate on electricity for the first 50 miles, for daily driving, and then convert to a hybrid that is supported by gas, for trips that are longer than 50 miles. So in a couple of years when I pony up and by that plug-in hybrid, I now have a place to charge it for free when I do business in downtown Lake Oswego. How cool is that?

For the full text of the September 23rd Oregonian article click here.