Astoria to receive $1.8 million for waterline project

The Astorian

Astoria will receive $1.8 million in federal funding for the replacement of a nearly 100-year-old waterline on Irving Avenue.

The funding, backed by U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, is part of a spending package approved by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden this month. Merkley and U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden helped secure nearly $42 million for 28 community-initiated projects across the state in the portion of the package that dealt with environmental and forest-related spending.

The 6-inch cast-iron waterline, located between 20th and 28th streets, extends through several landslide areas and has a history of failure. With the federal funding, the city will replace the aging waterline with a new 12-inch pipe constructed of modern materials and designed to improve the resiliency of the city’s water system.

City Manager Scott Spence explained that the project has been on the city’s priority list for several years, but has been put off due to funding concerns.

“This project would have been borne by our ratepayers,” Spence said at a City Council meeting on Monday. “And the fact that we were able to get congressionally directed spending really is a huge win for the community and also for ratepayers. So we can’t thank Sen. Merkley’s assistance enough on that.”

The city will budget a 20% match for the funding during the upcoming budget process. Spence said the city is still working through details to finalize the timeline for the project.

Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, is the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on the Interior, Environment and related agencies.

“As I hold town halls in each of Oregon’s 36 counties, I hear firsthand from folks about what matters most to them, including the need to take on wildfire, smoke and heat threats, modernize our water infrastructure to ensure the delivery of clean drinking water and sanitary systems, and protect our state’s iconic public lands and waters,” the senator said in a statement.

“The Interior bill I wrote and pushed to pass delivers on these priorities by funding environmental programs, community-initiated projects and programs supporting tribal communities that will benefit Oregonians in every corner of the state for years to come.”