EPA announces $79M funding for Columbia River Basin projects

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s chief announced a $79 million investment in an effort to protect and restore the Columbia River Basin with funding from President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law during an event in Portland on Wednesday.

The funding will give the EPA “the ability to grow the Columbia River Basin Restoration Program and significantly increase competitive grants throughout the Basin to reduce” toxins in fish and water along with addressing climate impacts for communities along the basin, according to a press release.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan’s Portland visit on Wednesday is part of the effort to gain support for the just-passed bill addressing climate change.

“The Columbia River Basin is a vital economic engine and an irreplaceable environmental asset, providing a broad range of benefits from agriculture to recreation to electricity, but toxic contaminants in the basin pose a serious risk,” Regan said in a statement. “Through the investments from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we will make unprecedented progress in our efforts to restore and protect these waters, clean up harmful pollution and deliver economic and environmental benefits to the communities supported by the basin.”

The funding for seven initial grants was announced on Wednesday, and an additional 18 projects will be funded by autumn, according to the funding announcement.

The seven initial grants are for the following projects: Salmon-Safe Columbia Basin Pledge, which aims to speed up water quality protection; Pesticide Behavior Change Project of Oregon & Southwest Washington; Columbia River Pollution Education and Outreach Project; Reducing PFAS and Phthalates in Local Water Systems within the Columbia Basin; Engaging Communities to Monitor Mercury Risk in the Columbia River Basin; Columbia Slope Water Quality Monitoring Phase 2; and the Waste Incentive Network.