Intertie could pass through Miles Crossing areaWARRENTON - A pipeline, or "intertie" linking Astoria's water supply to Warrenton's continues to pose as an intriguing option for the two cities.

Jim Hough, Warrenton's interim city manager, said the idea still has a long way to go to get out of the conceptual stage but he feels it has support by those involved.

The most recent study on the idea by Berger/Abam Engineers Inc. of Federal Way, Wash., estimated that the cities could build the pipe through Miles Crossing at a total cost of about $2 million. If the Miles Crossing option is used, the pipe would span the Youngs and Lewis and Clark rivers before linking up at the Port's Astoria Regional Airport at Warrenton . The pipe would connect at the Astoria side along Olney Avenue or Marine Drive.

Another option recommended by the engineering firm would be to span Youngs Bay with a pipeline, but that idea would cost about $440,000 more.

The pipe would be a 12-inch transmission line, capable of providing a range of 700 to 1,400 gallons per minute to provide roughly 1 million gallons in a day. Short-term emergency flows could provide up to 2,000 gallons per minute.

Emergency water pressure is one of the key reasons behind the intertie. The port has not been able to develop land at the airport because it does not have adequate water pressure for fire suppression.

Astoria and the port have expressed their support of the idea in the past, and Hough said the most recent talks among the three have continued to be positive.

To continue to move the idea along, Hough said environmental studies need to be completed.

"We're lining up that stuff to see how to proceed," he said.

The city is working on building a new wastewater treatment plant and other large projects, and Hough said the intertie idea is a little way down on the list of city priorities.

But he said that doesn't mean the city doesn't see the value of the intertie and is still pursuing options to move it along.

And, he said, the report on building the pipeline through Miles Crossing gives the plan more substance.

"Now we know the effort won't be wasted effort," he said.

So far the studies on the idea have been funded through grants. Hough said one option for finding grants for environmental work would be to work with the Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce because of the organization's expertise in finding grant funds.

Grants will be crucial to the future of the pipeline because Hough said Warrenton doesn't have enough of its own resources to turn the intertie idea into a more concrete project.

He added he expects the city's board of commissioners supports more work on the idea, but he said he would not want to have to go to them asking for the city to spend its money on funding an environmental impact analysis. "We basically want to avoid going there," he said.

Despite the questions of funding, Hough said a strong sense of cooperative effort among Warrenton, Astoria and the port continues to move the project along.

"The best thing happening here is a synergistic effort," he said.

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