New water reservoir taking shape on Powell Butte

See the steps that contractors are taking, to bring this project closer to completion …

Two excavators work in tandem to remove, then scoop, dirt into trucks at the Powell Butte Reservoir #2 construction site. 

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
From the time the project was first introduced to the community, East Portland News has followed the Powell Butte Reservoir #2 project.

  • For our “first look” at this project in 2008, CLICK HERE to read that story.
  • To see how the City prepared to build Powell Butte Reservoir #2, CLICK HERE.
  • See our exclusive story about the project’s groundbreaking in 2009: CLICK HERE.
  • Read our 2010 project update: CLICK HERE

After being flagged into the worksite, we again met with Portland Water Bureau Senior Public Outreach Coordinator Tim Hall, on February 27 – as a dizzying dance of dump trucks and heavy equipment whirled before us.

Portland Water Bureau Senior Public Outreach Coordinator Tim Hall says this massive project is again underway.

“We’re now in ‘Phase 2’ of what will be the City of Portland’s second underground 50,000,000 gallon drinking water reservoir,” Hall began, as we stood atop the Powell Butte Nature Park.

“In 2010, the first contractor, for Phase 1 of this project, dug down and removed more than 323,000 cubit yards of material – that work was completed in May of 2010.”

The start of the second phase of construction was delayed, Hall added, due to delays encountered in obtaining permits and permits, and in the contracting process. “All the contractors had to be certified. After the contract was let to SSC Construction, a local contractor challenged their certification.”

Heavy equipment operators take full advantage of a rare sunny day atop Powell Butte, as they dig to the final depth of what will become the second reservoir. The excavator to the rear and right is feeding removed dirt into an on-site gravel plant to reclaim materials for future use.

In the current phase, contractors are digging down another 10 to 15 feet to create the base on which the foundation of the reservoir will be poured.

“After they’ve completed the excavation, there are some drainage pipes that have to be placed in the facility,” Hall explained. “After that, the next phase will be the concrete work.”

On the north end of the site, the contractor works to create the connection vault for the new reservoir.

Looking to the north side of the reservoir, Hall pointed out the “vault” – the lowest part of the underground structure from which water will flow out to into the system.

PWB anticipates that the contractor will complete this phase within a week or so. “Then, they’ll start putting in the drains – and, concrete work should start in May,” Hall said.

Around December of this year – at SE 148 and 168 Avenues on Division Street, and at 42nd Avenue and Division Street – contractors will begin installing underground “vaults” that will connect the new reservoir into the system. “Those projects will take four to five months to complete,” reported Hall. “There will be some detours and road closures during that work.”

This image documents the scope and size of this immense project.

On our tour, we saw a neighbor nearly struck by a dump truck – as he clearly ignored the “No Pedestrians” sign on the service road.

“Public safety is very important to the Portland Water Bureau,” Hall said. “This is both for those using this Portland Parks & Recreation facility, and for our contractors.”

The park is open, Hall said, adding, “For your safety, please obey all construction signs.  When a trail is closed, please stay off of the trail – it’s because there’s construction going on where you can’t see it. We want to make sure that nobody gets hurt.”

While we expect that the new reservoir will be online in the spring of 2014 – check back regularly here, as we continue to document this, one of the largest recent PWB projects.

To the north and east of the new reservoir, an excavator begins digging the foundation for the new Caretaker’s Cabin.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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