The wonder and beauty of the Pacific Northwest is not immune from natural disasters. We’ve already experienced major weather events, such as the 2021 heat dome, destructive and widespread wildfires, and damaging wind and ice storms — and our communities are ever at risk of earthquakes.
We can’t stop natural disasters, but we can prepare for them. As individuals and families, we can ensure we’re in the best position to weather whatever Mother Nature sends our way by signing up for emergency alerts, stocking our homes with emergency supplies, and ensuring everyone in our households knows what to do when disaster strikes.
Local utilities like Clean Water Services and public agencies are also working together to plan for natural hazards, under the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Putting together these plans ensures resources are properly routed in the event of a major emergency.
At Clean Water Services, we’ve been studying how any hazard might affect our facilities and operations. Our overall goal is to provide services, protect employees, and strengthen infrastructure. We are planning for what it will take to quickly recover essential services — including treating wastewater and ensuring stormwater flows where it needs to go — in the event of a natural hazard. We’re also committed to protecting the health and safety of our community by partnering with the Bureau of Reclamation and others to ensure Scoggins Dam – which many in our region depend upon for a stable water supply – is upgraded to withstand a major earthquake.
Washington County has developed a Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan in partnership with the cities of Beaverton, Cornelius, Forest Grove, Hillsboro, North Plains, Sherwood, and Tigard, in addition to Clean Water Services, Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District, and Tualatin Valley Water District.
Included in our draft are actions to address dam failure, drought, earthquake, extreme heat, flooding, landslides, volcanic ash, wildfire, windstorms, and winter storms. These actions build on what we’re already doing to address both emergency response activities and longer-term recovery. You can also read about the region’s overall vulnerability to these dangers.
As we create our plan, we want to hear from you. Knowing what community members are most concerned about will help us design a plan that fits the needs of the public. Public input from our Natural Hazard Mitigation Awareness Survey in 2022 helped shape the current draft of the plan. Public comment on the Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan is open until March 5.