Twenty miles to the west of Portland is Washington County; home to the Tualatin River, Barney Reservoir, Hagg Lake and both the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. Incorporated in 1876, the City of Hillsboro has had a secure municipal water supply since the 1940s. Through effective long-term planning and dedicated conservation efforts, the City of Hillsboro is meeting the water needs of its residents and managing its water supply for the future.
Innovation and Leadership
Since the 1960s, Hillsboro has established its status as a water management leader with the collaborative development of natural rain-fed, gravity-flow reservoirs supporting three core water goals: public health, reliability, and vitality of the communities it served. Rapid residential and commercial growth beginning in the 1980s required facilities expansion and new partnerships with other water providers in the Tualatin Valley watershed as well.
Collaborative Management and Success
The future success of Hillsboro’s water supply relies on two key components: managing water sources and quality, and active usage conservation efforts with residential and commercial users. Working collaboratively with industrial and agricultural landowners within the watershed, Hillsboro monitors water sources for quality, cloudiness, and flow.
The City researched watershed influencers in the area and now maintains a geodatabase of that information to aid with management. Hillsboro has actively sought partners to implement river quality improvement programs through relationship-building and by offering grants to non-profits willing to perform quality improvement projects in the Tualatin Watershed.
Clean Water Services (CWS) a regional water resources management utility also has programs in place supported by the City. Initiatives ranging from contamination mitigation to tree planting and riparian environmental maintenance to habitat enrichment in support of butterfly colonies are conducted by CWS. The programs of both agencies reinforce the key concept that a healthier watershed requires fewer interventions.
Hillsboro enthusiastically offers conservation opportunities to its water use customers, as well. Recent programs have included automated meter monitoring to detect leaks quickly; rebates to encourage efficiency upgrades of toilets and washing machines, and installation of automated, weather-based controls on landscape irrigation systems. Focused outreach efforts to implement conservation strategies with commercial users, community organizations and schools are also ongoing.
Leadership for Years to Come
Water reliability has been a key factor in the City of Hillsboro’s growth and success over the last 20 years. Supporting a healthy balance of commercial, industrial and residential users, the city’s collaborative approach has allowed it to be recognized as a regional leader in the development of resources and partnerships to meet water needs into the future.
The City of Hillsboro is preparing for development of additional water storage through aquifer storage recovery (ASR), technology for water resources management and environmental protection that enables storage deep underground when water is available, for recovery when needed to meet urban, agricultural, ecosystem, industrial, recreational, emergency and other water uses. This technology will provide an additional 50-100 million gallons of water storage for their customer base.
Striving to be a good steward of a healthy and vibrant watershed means water usage averaging 17.5 million gallons/day, with peak summer day use levels of 32.6 million gallons. Efforts to be a good steward of the water supply also includes a reduction in residential per capita water use from 97 gallons/day in 2002 to 64 gallons/day in 2013, due in part to implementation of active water supply management and conservation programs.