Water System/Watershed

McMinnville’s Water Source

Located in the Coast Mountain Range northwest of the City of McMinnville, McMinnville Water & Light’s watershed and source water supply is mainly undeveloped forest. Over 6,300 acres of this land is owned by McMinnville Water & Light, and our main objective in managing the watershed is to protect water resources and maintain water quality.

All watershed property owned by McMinnville Water & Light is closed to the public and access is strictly controlled. Hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, or any other recreational activity is prohibited and any unauthorized entry is subject to legal action and enforcement.

Douglas fir tree saplings

Forest Management

McMinnville Water & Light is committed to sustainable forest management.  MW&L’s watershed is certified as a Tree Farm under the American Tree Farm System.

Active forest management is important to keep forests healthy and resilient. For many years, McMinnville Water & Light has contracted with a consulting firm to provide a forester to help manage the forest and natural resources within the watershed. Each year, timber is harvested using sustainable yield practices followed by the planting of thousands of seedlings to reforest the harvested areas. Managing the forest in this way helps to improve forest health and long-term stand productivity, increase water production and reduce the impact from wildfires by removing dead and dying trees.

Revenue from timber sales help to fund capital projects for water infrastructure. This allows McMinnville Water & Light to upgrade and improve the water system while continuing to provide one of the lowest water rates in Oregon.

McGuire and Link Reservoirs

The surface runoff in the watershed is impounded in McGuire and Link Reservoirs. Nestled at 1,895 feet in the Oregon Coast Range, the McGuire Dam and Reservoir holds billions of gallons of water. Link Reservoir is filled both by water that flows from Haskins Creek, and water that is diverted from McGuire Reservoir through Idlewild Creek. Gravity delivers the water from the reservoirs to the Norm Scott Water Treatment Plant.

Both reservoirs are named after people who have made significant contributions to the community.  Haskins Reservoir was renamed the Walter S. Link Reservoir at the time of the 1951 dam raise, to honor MW&L’s commissioner Walter Link for his 34 years of service and “vision and unremitting effort” toward McMinnville’s water system.  In 1967, the McMinnville Water and Light Commission named its second impoundment structure the Milton Hunt McGuire Dam and Reservoir to honor the contributions of General Manager Milt McGuire.

Aerial photo of McGuire Reservoir

Norm Scott Water Treatment Plant

Over the years, MW&L has secured a reliable and safe water supply by acquiring water rights, through several reservoir projects, and by carefully maintaining the water treatment plant and water infrastructure. The Norm Scott Water Treatment Plant came online in 1977 and was expanded in 2005. The plant has a capacity of 22 million gallons per day. The treatment plant is expandable to an anticipated watershed yield of 30 mgd.

Fox Ridge Service Reservoirs

Water from the water treatment plant flows by gravity through approximately 10 miles of transmission pipelines. The transmission lines consist of single sections of 36-inch diameter pipe, and parallel sections of 14/16-inch and 24-inch pipelines. These lines feed four finished water distribution reservoirs (tanks) that are located on Fox Ridge Road, just west of the McMinnville city limits. The combined volume of the four tanks is 22.7 MG. Water from these four tanks flows by gravity to MW&L’s customers.

Aerial photo of Fox Ridge reservoirs in McMinnville

Distribution System

The distribution system consists of approximately 153 miles of pipelines, which are used to bring water to 12,000 households and businesses.

Results: Quality Water

McMinnville Water and Light water treatment and distribution staff were recognized with a 1st Place finish in a Best Tasting Water Competition in 2023!