Grants support a variety of projects, benefit Oregonians and critical fish populations

Grants support a variety of projects, benefit Oregonians and critical fish populations

Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden recently announced that the Drinking Water Providers Partnership, which supports collaboration between federal and state agencies and nonprofits, is allocating over $370,000 to eight projects in Oregon that will help improve drinking water quality and salmon habitat.

In addition, the Oregon Coast Salmon Restoration Environmental Impact Fund Feasibility Study will receive $140,000, and the Biomass Energy Implementation Fund—which includes work in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska—has been awarded $201,000.

“The health and well-being of Oregon’s families, wildlife, and recreation economy depend on the quality of our rivers, creeks, and forests,” said Merkley. “I’m pleased that this funding is making its way to our state to help support projects we need to keep our waterways healthy and safe for generations to come.”

Newly federally funded projects will restore 80 acres of floodplain along a side channel of the McKenzie River; increase resiliency to climate change impacting water quantity and habitat for salmon in the Clackamas River; reduce sources of drinking water contamination in Skillet Creek; improve water quality and habitat for Chinook salmon and redside rainbow trout in Deer Creek; reduce risks to source water in Woodward Creek; restore the Page Creek tributary by adding channel complexity and improving vegetation; and improve water quality in Elk Creek.

“Oregon’s quality of life is synonymous with clean waterways that support quality drinking water and solid salmon habitat,” Wyden said. “I’m glad this partnership has earned these federal funds that will build on the strength of our state’s world-renowned recreation and natural beauty for the enjoyment of Oregonians and visitors alike.”

In addition, Oregonians working to reduce sediment delivery in Schooner Creek—as well as the Eugene Water & Electric Board, which is working to launch a McKenzie River stormwater retrofit project—have received state funds through Oregon’s Drinking Water Source Protection Fund.

In previous years, grants provided by the Drinking Water Providers Partnership have supported projects to lower turbidity by reducing sediment from roads; improve awareness of drinking water source protection through an education campaign; and reconnect floodplains or wetlands.

“SURCP and our project partner, the USFS, is very pleased to be able to access a portion of these significant grant funds related to improving water quality here in the Umpqua basin,” said Stanley Petrowski, President/Director of the South Umpqua Rural Community Partnership. “These Drinking Water Protection Project grant dollars will go a long way to bridge the financial gap created by Covid19 impact on the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board restoration funds.

"Not only will water quality improve but the local economy will see improvements since the project will utilize a local workforce and equipment once the design work is completed.”

The Drinking Water Providers Partnership grants will be distributed as follows:

Deer Creek Phase II: $50,000

McKenzie River at Finn Rock: $50,000

Skillet Creek: $48,000

Clackamas River Wetlands: $28,398

Woodward Creek Restoration: $20,000

Illinois River, Page Creek Tributary: $30,000

Floras Creek: $47,000

Elk Creek: $38,500

Schooner Creek: $30,000

McKenzie River Stormwater Retrofit: $30,000

“A river connects everything that it touches, but we often miss seeing what’s right in front of us,” said Marlies Wierenga, WildEarth Guardians’ Pacific Northwest Conservation Manager. “Our partnership aims to spotlight the importance of clean water by linking upstream efforts to restore streams to the drinking water needs of downstream communities.”