Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced that a total of $3,978,520 in federal funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be directed to four Oregon communities to assist with expenditures related to restoring and modernizing water infrastructure. affected by forest fires, drought and other extreme weather phenomena.
“The resilience of Oregonians has been inspired by recent extreme weather events and the ongoing global pandemic, but no one should live without access to reliable, clean drinking water,” Merkley said. These federal funds from the USDA will help improve water infrastructure—a big concern I hear from people in rural Oregon, and help offset costs to build barriers intended to protect vulnerable watersheds and treatment plants. I will continue to do everything in my power to provide the necessary federal resources to ensure clean, reliable drinking water for Oregonians in every corner of the state.”
“The devastating combination of wildfires, drought, and other effects of severe weather has devastated many Oregon communities and threatened the drinking water on which they depend,” Wyden said. “I am delighted that these federal infrastructure investments are going into our state to help Oregonians protect the clean water they deserve when they turn on the tap. And I will continue to work to secure similar resources across Oregon.”
Project details can be found below:
Gold Hill City, Jackson County – $215,520:
This investment in rural development will be used to help with expenses related to installing equipment to divert polluted rainwater and to replace damaged damaged infrastructure. This will include replacing two pumps, intake screens, and installing a steel flow diversion structure to direct debris away from the intake equipment. The water treatment plant was built in 1981 and is located on the Rogue River, downstream from the convergence of Multiple Creeks affected by the Labor Day bushfires in September 2020, Alameda and South Openshine. Severe damage across these sub-watersheds and increased sediment run-off affected the raw water source and caused a decline in water quality and quantity.
Panther Creek Water District, Lincoln County – $794,000:
This rural development investment will be used to assist with expenses related to the installation of a retaining wall with a fire hydrant at the base, storm drain, and piping with electrical conduit to facilitate electrical and telecommunications needs. The hillside adjacent to the existing water treatment plant burned in the Mount Echo fires in September of 2020. The hillside now poses a landslide hazard, threatening to damage the water treatment plant. Improvements are required to prevent an impending water supply problem caused by the Mount Echo fire.
Ochoco West Water and Sanitary Authority, Croke County – $400,000:
This rural development investment will be used to provide for the rebuilding of the spring box, modifications to existing backwash ponds, the addition of a new chlorine feeding system and the addition of new filters to the water treatment building. Site works will also include excavation, gravel backfilling and topsoil works. Five box springs currently providing potable water to the facility; However, two of the five chests were damaged and unused. There is a well and one water treatment plant that is not in use at the moment. In addition to the spring, there is an OWWSA well that was drilled in 1992 which houses an obsolete and ineffective filtration system. A local landslide event in 2020 damaged the spring boxes and caused the water to stop flowing into the springs. The drought emergency in 2020 reduced flows in OWWSA springs and conditions carried over to 2021. These two events significantly reduced water quantity and quality.
Brookings City, Cary County – $2,569,000:
* The City of Brookings has also received a $24,996,000 loan from the USDA to help complete the project.
The rural development investment will be used to assist the City of Brookings with expenditures related to repairs to leaks and flow differences in the collection system, upgraded pumping stations, and replacement of wastewater treatment plant components. The city’s sewage collection system has excessive filtration and flow, and the pumps are old and outdated. Smoke pressure and flow tests indicated several shortcomings that needed to be addressed and that many pumping stations were outdated and required upgrades.