Infrastructure plan pumps money into Oregon's drinking water
Oregon is expected in 2022 to receive a total of $92,079,000 in federal funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed into law last month.
The bipartisan effort — championed by President Joe Biden, who made it one of his top legislative priorities in his first year in office — earmarks more than $50 billion toward strengthening crucial water infrastructure projects. That includes:
• $20+ billion for safe drinking water.
• $15 billion in dedicated funding to replace lead pipes.
• $12 billion to ensure clean water for communities.
• $1.8 billion to protect regional waters.
• $135 million for additional water improvements.
The $92 million state revolving fund Oregon is slated to receive will be the first of five yearly installments.
"Access to safe and reliable drinking water is critical for our communities to stay healthy and thrive," U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici said in a written statement Wednesday, Dec. 22.
"Lead and contaminants pose serious health threats to Oregonians," Bonamici added. "As a mom and a policymaker, I'm especially concerned about making sure our kids can drink clean water at home and at school. This federal investment of $92 million will provide clean safe drinking water to hundreds of thousands of Oregonians. That's what it means to build back better."
The funds, while much welcome, will only put a small dent in what is required, with Oregon cities needing at least $23 billion over the next two decades to to fund the cost of repairing, replacing and upgrading water infrastructure, according to a recent survey conducted by the League of Oregon Cities and Portland State University's Center for Public Service.
While details on how the money will be broken down in Oregon are yet to be released, the bill is intended to achieve a number of key initiatives laid out by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which include targeting disadvantaged communities, making progress toward lead-free water for all, and tackling "forever chemicals" like perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances and other emerging contaminants.
Tribal communities across the nation are slated to receive a total of $154,080,000 in funding in 2022. This could be critical for communities like Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, where most residents don't have access to clean drinking water.
The reservation's decades-old pipes and pumps have failed multiple times in recent years, forcing community members to rely on donated water and supplies from donations and their Emergency Management team.
"Soon, the Congress has a chance to make a real down payment on building a new system that fulfills America's treaty obligations to Native American tribes," U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden told OPB during a press conference at Warm Springs in October.
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