Business Oregon tops $300 million in support for Oregon drinking water systems

SALEM – Business Oregon, the state’s economic development agency, recently surpassed $300 million in water system funding that ensures Oregonians have access to safe drinking water.

The agency’s Safe Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund, started in 1998, has provided $330 million in funding to 173 projects across 31 Oregon counties.

"I can reel off a long list of projects that the Safe Drinking Water fund has helped finance across Oregon," said Robert Ault, interim assistant director of Business Oregon's Infrastructure Division. "It is one of the best tools we have to help communities both large and small maintain a safe drinking water supply."

The agency passed $300 million in August with $10 million in loans and grants for a water treatment plant and water intake system in the City of Lebanon, the largest award in the fund’s history. (The project also received another $11 million loan from the agency's Special Public Works Fund.)

The loans will allow the city to replace a nearly 70-year-old treatment plant and to double the drinking water capacity in the city of 16,000.

“Business Oregon's loan program was a huge benefit for us," said Ron Whitlatch, Lebanon's city engineer. "We couldn’t have done it without the Infrastructure Division. Without the low interest rate loan, we likely would have had to raise citizens' water rates by another 15 percent."

A rendering of the City of Lebanon's new water treatment plant. Construction is scheduled to start this summer.

Who receives loans: Most loans go to small water systems with limited finances for major infrastructure projects. Since 1998, about 85 percent of all funding has gone to communities with populations of 10,000 or less. Download a complete list of projects from 1998 to 2016 in an Excel file, a Google spreadsheet or check out our map.

How the program works: The loan fund offers low-cost financing through below-market interest rates and extended loan payment periods. Some low-income communities also qualify for grants. To learn more about funding availability in your community, contact your regional coordinator.

Program background: The Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996 established loan programs to help water systems pay for the infrastructure required to meet public health goals and federal environmental regulations. In Oregon, the Safe Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund is managed jointly by Business Oregon's Infrastructure Finance Division and the Oregon Health Authority.

Photos: Find project photos on our Flickr album.

For more information

Ryan Frank, 971-804-2530, ryan.frank@oregon.gov