Costs to Build Portland Drinking Water Reservoir Soar Past Expectations

The price to construct a new drinking water reservoir in Southwest Portland has ballooned more than 200% over the project’s lifetime, according to officials’ recent testimony to the City Council.New expenses were added Wednesday when the mayor and commissioners approved $8 million in spending increases that officials said were necessary to keep the project going.

All told, the cost to build a 12.4 million gallon underground reservoir at Washington Park in order to satisfy federal regulations has soared far past officials’ original estimate of $67 million when the project launched in 2009. In 2015, engineers at the Water Bureau said the figure was actually closer to $170 million. Today, the cost is at least $205 million.

Additional expenses have arisen because of what the Portland Water Bureau has described as unforeseen soil problems encountered at the site.The cost overruns anger skeptics who question officials’ ability to manage large infrastructure projects as Portland drinking water rates keep rising.

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