Wyden, Merkley: Lane and Douglas Counties to Receive Vital Drought Resiliency Investments

Bureau of Reclamation Funds Two Oregon Projects Under its WaterSMART Program

Washington DC - U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced Douglas and Lane counties will receive $1.22 million and $4 million, respectively, in drought resiliency funding as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act.   

“In Oregon and throughout the West, we know firsthand how much the climate crisis has devastated our communities and economies with drought and other impacts,” dijo Wyden. “Solutions for water storage and innovative ways to capture and reuse water are key strategies to support communities throughout Oregon now, and into the future. I’m glad the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act that I fought to pass are helping these Oregon counties, and I’ll keep battling to ensure similar investments from these two landmark laws benefit Oregonians statewide.” 

“As climate chaos fuels persistent drought in Oregon, supporting water efficiency and modernization is more important than ever for our communities and small businesses to thrive,” dijo Merkley. “This WaterSMART funding for projects in Douglas and Lane counties is just the kind of smart federal investment we need to be making in innovative water solutions to build a stronger, more resilient future for our state’s economy and environment.”   

The Bureau of Reclamation announced an award to the Metropolitan Wastewater Management Commission in Lane County to upgrade existing infrastructure for water filtering, disinfection, storage, and conveyance to deliver up to 1.3 million gallons of Class A recycled water per day for public works and industrial uses. 

In Douglas County, the Tri-City Joint Water and Sanitary Authority will use its resources from the Reclamation Bureau to build a new 300,000-gallon potable water storage tank and associated infrastructure, significantly improving water delivery efficiency and flexibility, which will bolster drought resilience.

“We are excited that Tri-City Joint Water and Sanitary Authority was selected for this much needed grant award,” said Douglas County Commissioner Tim Freeman. “Our small rural communities struggle to find the resources to update necessary infrastructure and the opportunity to apply and successfully win a grant that will more than triple their existing water supply system capacity is just fantastic.”

“Small communities like ours face significant challenges concerning funding for needed infrastructure,” said Paul Wilborn, General Manager of the Tri-City Water and Sanitary Authority. “Our team has sought funding for this important project for several years. Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding enables the project to move ahead. The project promises several key benefits for our underserved community. We’ll be better prepared to manage our critical water resources in the face of climate-induced drought. Our ability to protect our residents from natural hazard, such as wildfire, will be significantly enhanced through increased emergency water storage and fire flow, and supply redundancy that will enable uninterrupted water service even during maintenance operations.”                                       

“We are delighted that the Bureau of Reclamation has selected the Metropolitan Wastewater Management Commission’s (MWMC) WaterSMART grant proposal for award to help fund construction of new Class A recycled water capabilities at our community’s Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility in Eugene that serves the Eugene, Springfield and Lane County metro area,” said Jennifer Yeh, MWMC President and Eugene City Councilor; Joe Pishioneri, MWMC Vice President and Springfield City Councilor; and Pat Farr, MWMC Commissioner and Lane County Commissioner.

“This funding is critical to advancing the project’s environmental, economic, and water resource benefits for use in construction aggregate operations and public greenspace irrigation,” Yeh, Pishioneri, and Farr said in their joint statement. “Additionally, the project fulfills stakeholder interest in establishing the demonstration of recycled water’s safe and reliable use that in turn will help our community’s resiliency to drought. This is an exciting step forward for the MWMC in protecting community health and the environment in a fiscally responsible manner for years to come. Thank you to the Bureau of Reclamation and our federal delegation for their support of this effort.”