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Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde

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The tribes are stretched thin on water and needs are growing rapidly. They plan a major expansion of the Spirit Mountain Casino - adding 8,000 square feet of gaming space and 130 hotel rooms - and new housing is adding to water demands. In contrast, the city of Willamina owns the rights to 800,000 gallons a day from Lady Creek, which flows into the South Yamhill River between Grand Ronde and Willamina. It has a new water treatment plant and a 1.6 million gallon water reservoir on Willamina Creek, more than enough water for its 1,800 residents. The Willamina City Council agreed in late July to cooperate in a joint water study. "Water is such a precious resource in the Yamhill basin," said John Mercier, tribal capital projects manager. "Our study is in its early stages ... . We're going to take a look at this source - its quality, quantity and potential for delivery." Area tourism began exploding the day the Spirit Mountain opened. The casino has passed Multnomah Falls as the state's top tourist attraction. The tribes also are considering development of a convention center and aquatic center. Water could prove a limiting factor, though, unless the confederation can develop a larger supply.

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