Congressman Walden: Hermiston Water Bill Moves

Walden’s Hermiston water solution clears House unanimously
By Congressman Greg Walden,

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A plan led by Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) for federal help in a new wastewater reuse system in Hermiston to benefit the community, farmers, and fish passed the House of Representatives unanimously this afternoon. The bill, H.R. 2741, would authorize the Bureau of Reclamation to design, plan, and construct water recycling facilities in Hermiston.

“This bill is good for farmers and good for fish,” Walden said. “This plan authorizes the Bureau of Reclamation to work with Hermiston to simultaneously keep up with the demands from the growing population and put clean water back into the Umatilla River for threatened salmon species. It would also provide much-needed additional water to area irrigators, and help offset costs to local ratepayers for the needed upgrades.”

The current facility will be unable to meet new pollution regulations set to go into effect in December 2010. The proposed project would produce 3,400 acre feet of high-quality Class A water that can be used for all agriculture irrigation needs—not merely pasture land irrigation, as is the case with the current recycled water. This high-quality water will also benefit the salmon and the environment by meeting pollution standards for decades to come.

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation support the legislation, and Hermiston City Manager Ed Brookshier testified in the nation’s capital in July on its behalf. Now, with a unanimous endorsement from the House of Representatives, the Senate must act before the President can give the plan the final go-ahead.

Walden met with city leaders and toured the current Hermiston facility on June 30 (photo attached).

The existing wastewater facilities in Hermiston were constructed in 1979 and, after 30 years, are in need of modernization. If signed into the law, the project will achieve a list of important local, agricultural, and environmental objectives:

?    Enable the city to reliably meet new pollution reduction requirements for the next 20-plus years

?    Increase wastewater treatment capacity to match the growth in the region’s economy and population.

?    Return of top quality, Class A water to the Umatilla River that will provide additional protections for threatened salmon species

?    Drought-resistant water delivery of recycled water to the diverse agriculture community in the West Extension Irrigation District

The project will comply with all applicable environmental laws and regulations, and the city has already completed the required supporting environmental assessment. This included preparation of an environmental assessment for potential impacts from the proposed project, such as a cultural resources survey, wetland delineation, and an Endangered Species Act biological assessment.

Representative Greg Walden represents Oregon’s Second Congressional District, which is comprised of 20 counties in eastern, southern, and central Oregon. He is a member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.


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