One of the stranger quirks of life in Canby, a city nestled on the banks of not one, but two rivers, is that all of our water comes from a single source: the Molalla. And it’s not a great source, either — if you listen to the numerous complaints of residents that bloom each year during the warmer months.
But all that could be about to change, thanks to a new agreement in the works between the city of Canby and Canby Utility, which provides the city’s drinking water.
The framework of the agreement was presented to city councilors last week. It concerns two properties, located next to each other along the Molalla Forest Road logging trail. One parcel, the so-called “shops property,” houses some maintenance facilities and is jointly owned and operated by the city and Canby Utility. The other property is currently vacant.
Since Canby Utility plans to relocate their operations to their brand new headquarters on South Pine Street, they are willing to relinquish the 54 percent stake they currently own in the shops property. In exchange, the city proposes to offer the neighboring lot, a five-acre parcel of undeveloped forest land. This property would become the home of a future water treatment plant for Canby Utility.
Council President Tim Dale said this move represents the culmination of many years of diligent study and planning into meeting Canby’s future water needs. Their current facility, located on North Cedar near Eccles Elementary, is fairly limited in terms of possible expansion. This limitation led utility officials to look elsewhere.
“Star trader card” in hand, Canby Utility went shopping for various partnerships that would enable them to avoid the expense of building a new facility, including teaming up with the city of Wilsonville, but ultimately, none of the alternatives penciled out.
The property transfer agreement councilors approved last week also included a 15-foot easement across different property the city owns. This would allow Canby Utility to build an underground pipeline to the Willamette River.
Because Canby Utility does not anticipate starting construction on their new shop facility until next spring, the proposed agreement would allow them to continue to occupy the city shops property for up to 48 months.
According to Canby Utility Board chairman Bob Hill, they have no intention to build a new water treatment plant for 10 to 15 years, since the current plant has plenty of capacity for the near future.
Satellite image illustrating the location of the city-owned property that would be transferred to Canby Utility. Courtesy the city of Canby.
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