It’s not quite yet a done deal, but it appears like they’re getting there. The Seal Rock Water District, which still serves parts of South Beach north and south of the Newport Airport, has approached the Newport City Council to better connect the two communities’ water systems. In the event of an emergency at either end, it sure would come in handy.
The deal is to help pay for what is called Seal Rock’s “stubbing in” municipal water service on SE 66th and 68th as well as a line to the Newport Airport which will greatly enhance the airport’s potential for future economic growth.
Newport Public Works Director Tim Gross said the timing is a bit off for Newport’s needs but there may never be a perfect time to get the two water systems together. So when he was approached by Seal Rock Water’s general manager to help pay for the stubbing-in he said he’d have to check with his city council – which he did Monday night.
Gross said both the water district and the city have vulnerabilities. Newport’s water line under Yaquina Bay that serves South Beach and almost all the way to the airport, is a long perilous run, subject to earth movement and being underneath a busy waterway. Seal Rock, he said, suffers from a very long supply pipe from Toledo all the way down the South Bay Road to its distribution center. With the new solid inter-tie at the airport, Seal Rock could pump water north to Newport if needed, just like Newport could pump water south to Seal Rock in an emergency.
The city council agonized over Seal Rock’s last-minute request for $75,000 to solidify the inter-tie infrastructure which they’re right in the middle of completing as part of a Federal Emergency Management Agency project. Gross re-iterated that the timing isn’t just right but the inter-tie is a standing goal for his department. And the city would be getting a significant benefit from the completed work.
Councilors seemed amenable to the request. They seemed to warm up to it when they were reminded that the city’s budget process for next fiscal year, which starts July 1st, would have time to evaluate the proposal and try to fit it in to the city’s spending plans. City Attorney Steve Rich reminded the council that the city and Seal Rock are next door neighbors. And although the timing may not be the best, in the interest of being a good neighbor and knowing there will be many other challenges and opportunities for cooperation between Seal Rock and Newport, he’d like to see the council find a way to make it happen.
And they did. But again, they only went so far as to say that the proposal must go through the city’s budget process before the city can, as Gross said, “cut them a check after the work is done – because it will be done before the city’s budget process is complete.”
Bottom line: No guarantees, but unless something really big comes up, Seal Rock will likely have their request honored because the intertie is a very important component in terms of water service reliability for both Newport and Seal Rock and they’ve been talking about a permanent “hook up” between the two communities for a long time.