Pamplin Media Group – EPA lends Portland $ 727 million for water filtration plant
EPA funds will be used to finance the construction of a new water filtration plant in Boring.
Federal funds will help Portland finance a new water filtration plant, the US Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday.
The $ 727 million loan – the largest to date through the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act – will go to the Portland Water Bureau’s Bull Run treatment program, which will build a water treatment plant and pipelines at Boring to remove cryptosporidium and other contaminants from the city’s public drinking water supply, as well as reduce pipe corrosion and prevent lead poisoning.
Governor Kate Brown said the 100-year vision for the wastewater treatment plant “will center equity” and address the impacts of climate change. “We need to be forward thinking in our investments, knowing that our systems must be prepared to withstand more severe weather events in the decades to come,” Brown said.
Test drilling began in rural Clackamas County on March 1, although the plant is not expected to cross the finish line until 2027.
“This project and EPA’s WIFIA loan illustrate how strategic partnerships can improve public health and help tackle the impacts of climate change, while creating jobs and saving taxpayer money,” he said. said Radhika Fox, the Biden administration’s acting deputy administrator for water.
“These projects echo the wisdom of our city’s founders who established Bull Run as our water source over a century ago,” said Portland City Commissioner Mingus Mapps, who oversees the water office. “We are protecting their legacy with long-term investments to protect public health and economic growth for the next century. ”
While Oregon rulers have long resisted the creation of a cryptosporidium cleanup facility, citing the quality of the region’s watershed that supplies water to nearly a million people, a series of test results positive for the crypto prompted regulators to revoke the city’s variance, forcing officials to start planning for the establishment in 2017.
Fears of tariff increases to pay the plant prompted Gresham City council voted to turn off the tap and build its own groundwater system last year, rather than continuing to use Portland’s water system. That said, the massive project is expected to create some 4,700 construction and operator jobs.
US Senator Jeff Merkley spearheaded the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, first proposing legislation in 2012. It became a pilot program in 2014, and was consolidated as a federal program to infrastructure two years later. Merkley continues to fight for funding for the program from his seat on the Senate Appropriation Committee, according to a spokesperson.
“No matter where they live, every Oregonian deserves to have clean water to drink and a modern, up-to-date system to treat their water,” Merkley said.
The city will have to repay the loan over 30 years, but not before five years after the project is completed, according to a spokesperson for the director of the Water Office, Gabriel Solmer. Officials say the favorable 1.89% interest rate on the loan will save Portland taxpayers some $ 247.5 million over typical market financing.
The most recent rate in the city hike increased the monthly price of water by 6.5%.
The federal government says its $ 727 million loan will cover nearly half the total cost of the new plant, which currently has an approved budget of $ 820 million in 2019 dollars.
The office chose to borrow for “other eligible costs”, including a contingency price of less than 30% to 50%, plus bond reserves and financing costs, inflation and overhead. capitalized.
“The EPA allows borrowing to include all reasonable costs, such as contingencies,” said office spokeswoman Jaymee Cuti.
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