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La Pine getting $17.7 million in USDA loans, grants to expand sewer, curb groundwater contamination

(Update: Adding video, mayor comments on 'hybrid' system)

Projects include 500,000-gallon reservoir, adding new lines, 2 subdivisions

La PINE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., announced Friday that the city of La Pine will receive more than $17.7 million in loans and grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for municipal water improvements to transition away from septic systems contaminating groundwater for residents and small businesses.

“The people in this part of Deschutes County have long suffered from groundwater contamination from the septic systems,” said Wyden, who introduced the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Sector Development Act of 2022. “The city has already laid some of the foundation for a municipal wastewater system, so I’m gratified to see federal funds going toward getting this vital municipal wastewater project over the finish line.  This money will help La Pine reduce existing groundwater contamination and protect Oregon watersheds in this part of our state for years to come.”

“Access to clean, reliable water and a strong water infrastructure system is vital to growing and strengthening our communities and economies,” said Senator Merkley. “This USDA funding to La Pine will provide crucial support that will allow the city to improve not only their water infrastructure and wastewater system, but also the quality of the local watershed.”

The city of La Pine municipal water system improvements will include the following: Construction of a new 500,000-gallon water reservoir, installation of new water distribution lines to enhance looping, circulation, and fire flow capabilities, and the addition of the Cagle and Glenwood Acres subdivisions to the municipal water system.

Overall, the senators said the project will ensure that this rural area will have the needed funds to improve sewer system capacity, reduce contamination and improve the quality of the watershed for years to come.

“The City of La Pine would like to thank both Senators Wyden and Merkley, and Congressman Bentz for their efforts on behalf of all citizens that will benefit from these expansion improvements,” said Mayor Dan Richer. “We would also like to extend our appreciation for the efforts made by the United Stated Department of Agriculture and its regional representatives, who greatly assisted in bringing this funding package and project to fruition. This will significantly improve the livability and long-term sustainability of our community for all current and future citizens.”

Richer says a hybrid system known as a STEG (septic tank effluent gravity) system will use septic tanks on private property but send the effluent into the sewer system.

Article Topic Follows: La Pine

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