In case you haven't noticed, Washington County is booming. For many years, the County's population has been growing at around 2% annually and its current population of more than 580,000 is second only to Multnomah County's 800,000. Growth means thirst and the area's water providers are getting ready. The Willamette Water Supply Program, which is a joint effort between the Tualatin Valley Water District and the City of Hillsboro, is working on a very big infrastructure project. You could call it "Big Pipe 2." Unlike the City of Portland's original Big Pipe project, which was designed to stop dirty water from running into the Willamette River, Washington County's project will take water out of the Willamette in Wilsonville and carry it to Hillsboro and other parts of Washington County through more than 30 miles of pipe.
The Portland Tribune called the $1.2 billion dollar project "one of the largest public infrastructure projects ever undertaken in the region." That could already be declared a win on the basis of construction jobs and other incidental economic benefits. But what makes the project a win-win is that the pipe is also being manufactured locally. Northwest Pipe, headquartered in Vancouver and with a manufacturing plant in Portland, is providing the pipe for the project. Though it's a local company, it's not exactly small potatoes—its website says it's the "largest manufacturer of engineered steel pipe water systems in North America"—yet this is the first time it has provided materials locally. Northwest Pipe has been awarded contracts for the first three phases of the Washington County project to provide nearly 20,000 feet of pipe ranging from 48 to 66 inches in diameter. Big Portland pipe + Willamette River water = win-win!