Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced that Lane County Emergency Management will receive $1.02 million in federal reimbursement for measures taken to protect the McKenzie River, the sole source of drinking water for the Eugene metro area, during the 2020 Holiday Farm Fire.
“Lane County Emergency Management went above and beyond the call of duty to protect the crucial drinking water source during the devastating Holiday Farm fire, but these efforts were both challenging and expensive,” Wyden said. “I am gratified to see FEMA dollars repaying those efforts as the community continues to recover and rebuild from the destructive impact of this blaze on families and small businesses.”
“When I spoke to Oregonians who endured the devastating wildfires in 2020, it was clear they were shaken and uncertain of what the future held,” Merkley said. “But communities stood strong together and looked out for one another, including Lane County Emergency Management, which swiftly jumped into action implementing emergency protective measures for the McKenzie Valley Watershed. They ensured the water quality and public health of Lane County remained safe during this destructive event as they protected the only source of drinking water for the entire Eugene metro area. I’m pleased these funds headed to Lane County will help cover the costs of these essential measures, and I’m thankful for FEMA’s continued support for the McKenzie Valley region. I’ll continue to do all I can to ensure federal resources are available to all Oregon communities protecting against, responding to, and rebuilding from these extreme weather events.”
The Holiday Farm fire burned more than 170,000 acres and 1,100 buildings, posing an immediate threat to the water quality of the McKenzie River, a primary source of Lane County drinking water, notably for the cities of Eugene and Springfield. Lane County Emergency Management was able to limit the amount of burned materials, eroded soil and ash from contaminating the river.
“The relationships and coordination between local jurisdictions and agencies made this possible. Through mutual aid support between Lane County and EWEB as well as many other partners we were able to support the watershed emergency cleanup effort immediately following the Holiday Farm fire,” Lane County Commissioner Heather Buch said. “The McKenzie River is the single drinking water source for a large population in Lane County and its purity is a regional priority.”
A web version of this release is here.