Odell Water gains $1.2 million federal loan

A federal-state partnership that began in 1996 to improve drinking water safety has brought nearly $100 million in federal loan funds and state matching funds to Oregon communities, according to public health officials at the state Department of Human Services.

Locally, Odell Water Company was awarded a loan in the amount of $1,256,831, for the removal of nitrate from the water system.

Most of the water systems to benefit are small, though those in Springfield, Pendleton and Woodburn have also received loans.

“So far, $62 million in loans have been made to public water systems in 40 communities that will bring safer drinking water to more than 158,000 people,” said Dave Leland, drinking water program manager in DHS. “Many additional communities are lining up to use the rest of the money.”

The program is the Safe Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund. Authorized by Congress in 1996, it made $9.6 billion available nationwide through 2003. In Oregon, DHS administers the fund through a partnership with the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department (OECDD).

Leland says the fund allows water suppliers to make improvements, many times involving major construction projects, that would not have otherwise been possible. “The bottom line is that these communities will be better able to comply with federal Environmental Protection Agency drinking water quality standards,” he says.

Drinking water safety improvements include installing new or improved water treatment plants, constructing new wells and storage tanks and replacing miles of pipeline. Several of the projects have been completed and as communities repay their loans, funds are made available to other communities.

“Our success is based on the specific expertise both we and DHS bring to the program,” says Jim Breithaupt, finance officer at OECDD. “Working together, we make low-interest loans to water systems throughout the state, helping improve drinking water safety and bringing money into the community.”

OECDD provides 20 percent in state matching funds and awards and manages the loans to Oregon communities. Community water suppliers submit their water improvement applications to DHS, where a priority list is developed.

Every year, Oregon applies to the EPA for its annual allotment of loan funds, according to Leland. “This is our seventh and final year of funding under the current legislation,” he says. “We fully expect congress to reauthorize the loan fund next year, because it has been such a succesful program nationwide.”

Information about the loan fund is on the Web at www.ohd.hr.state.or.us/dwp/srlf.htm or by calling 503-731-4010.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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