La Pine getting $17.7 million in USDA loans, grants to expand sewer, curb groundwater contamination

La PINE, Ore. (KTVZ) — Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley,
D-Ore., announced Friday that the city of La Pine will receive more than $17.7
million in loans and grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for
municipal water improvements to transition away from septic systems
contaminating groundwater for residents and small businesses.

“The people in this part of Deschutes County have long
suffered from groundwater contamination from the septic systems,” said
Wyden, who introduced the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Sector Development Act
of 2022
. “The city has already laid some of the
foundation for a municipal wastewater system, so I’m gratified to see
federal funds going toward getting this vital municipal wastewater project over
the finish line.  This money will help La Pine reduce existing
groundwater contamination and protect Oregon watersheds in this part of our
state for years to come.”

“Access to clean, reliable water and a strong water
infrastructure system is vital to growing and strengthening our communities and
economies,” said Senator Merkley. “This USDA funding to La Pine will
provide crucial support that will allow the city to improve not only their
water infrastructure and wastewater system, but also the quality of the local

The city of La Pine municipal water system improvements will
include the following: Construction of a new 500,000-gallon water reservoir,
installation of new water distribution lines to enhance looping, circulation,
and fire flow capabilities, and the addition of the Cagle and Glenwood Acres
subdivisions to the municipal water system.

Overall, the senators said the project will ensure that this
rural area will have the needed funds to improve sewer
system capacity, reduce contamination and improve the quality of the
watershed for years to come.

“The City of La Pine would like to thank both Senators Wyden
and Merkley, and Congressman Bentz for their efforts on behalf of all citizens
that will benefit from these expansion improvements,” said Mayor Dan
Richer. “We would also like to extend our appreciation for the efforts
made by the United Stated Department of Agriculture and its regional
representatives, who greatly assisted in bringing this funding package and
project to fruition. This will significantly improve the livability and
long-term sustainability of our community for all current and future citizens.”

Richer says a hybrid system known as a STEG (septic tank
effluent gravity) system will use septic tanks on private property but send the
effluent into the sewer system.