Hearing and work session held for HB 2950 which would generate funds for wastewater lagoon studies

A bill proposed to the Oregon State Legislature that would allocate more than a million dollars to St. Helens is one step closer to being approved and adopted into the state budget.

On Wednesday, March 22, the House Committee on Economic Development and Trade held a public hearing and work session regarding HB 2950, a bill that would provide the city of St. Helens with funds to continue work on the wastewater lagoon repurposing project. The committee unanimously voted in favor of passing the bill and referring it to the Ways and Means Committee.

Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, is the bill's primary sponsor. Introduced in February, HB 2950 proposes to allocate $1.54 million from the state general fun for distribution to the city to "continue feasibility, evaluation, initiate permitting and site characterizations efforts, and conduct proof of concept analyses for the City of St. Helens central waterfront redevelopment and Portland Harbor cleanup support project."

During the hearing, St. Helens City Administrator John Walsh gave an overview of the city's intentions to repurpose its secondary wastewater lagoon by filing it with dredge spoils from the Portland Harbor Superfund site cleanup project. The city would need to pursue a Class D landfill permit from the state Department of Environmental Quality to take on the spoils.

Thus far, the city has completed a market analysis and technical feasibility analysis, but has not pursued geotechnical surveys or other work. Those studies could be funded by the state allocation.

Walsh was joined by Jim McKenna, a Portland Harbor policy analyst from the governor's office. From the perspective of the governor's office, McKenna said, he supports the project because it would create local job growth and save the financial cost of having to use dump trucks to haul dredge spoils to landfills.

"We see this as really providing a unique opportunity," McKenna said.

Witt said he "was proud to introduce HB 2950 on behalf of the City of St Helens," in an electronic newsletter released on Wednesday, March 29.

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