News Briefs: Oregon Wildfire Destroys Water Treatment Facility

The aftermath of the Lionshead Fire could affect drinking water quality for the next decade for 200,000 people in Detroit, Oregon

This September’s Lionshead Fire in Oregon could affect water quality for 200,000 residents for the next decade, according to a recent article by the Statesman Journal.

The fire destroyed not only 250 homes and businesses, but also the city’s water treatment facility.

“When the flames go out and the smoke goes away, for most people, they kind of stop thinking about fire,” Kevin Bladon, assistant professor in OSU’s College of Forestry, tells the Statesman Journal. “This is when all the problems start — when the flames go out and when the first rain event of the year starts moving that ash and the sediment into our streams, that really can have some profound impacts on our ecosystems.”

Michigan Governor Announces $500 Million in Water Infrastructure Investments

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently announced MI Clean Water — a $500 million comprehensive water infrastructure investment in Michigan’s water systems from source to tap. The MI Clean Water plan marks a significant investment after decades of underinvestment in Michigan’s infrastructure. 

“The MI Clean Water investment will help us rebuild Michigan’s water infrastructure and will prioritize and invest directly into protecting our public health, environment, and economy,” Whitmer said in a statement. “The MI Clean Water Plan is a critical part of the solution, but the work cannot stop here. I look forward to working with the Legislature to find creative solutions to address our water infrastructure backlog. Everyone must remain committed to ensuring that every Michigander has access to clean water.”

The investment includes a proposal combining federal dollars for lead service line replacement in low-income communities ($102.1 million) with bonding authority for water quality protection ($290 million), one-time General Fund appropriation for drinking water infrastructure and innovation ($105 million), and asset management grants ($2.9 million) to help communities develop, update and improve their plans for wastewater and stormwater systems resulting in a comprehensive water infrastructure investment of $500 million in Michigan’s water systems. The MI Clean Water investment will be done without raising the taxes of Michiganders, according to Whitmer.

EPA Announces WIFIA Loans in California and Utah

In other news, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced two new Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans at events in Oceanside, California and Salt Lake City, Utah. EPA’s 27th and 28th WIFIA loans will provide more than $415 million to help the local communities finance important water infrastructure projects — supporting an innovative water reuse project in Oceanside and improving water quality and system resiliency in Salt Lake City.


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