PORTLAND, Ore., August 17, 2020 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development is investing $2.1 million to establish a municipal water system for the rural community of Biggs Junction in northern Oregon, announced State Director John Huffman today.
“Safe drinking water is essential for public health, now more than ever, but the cost of a large infrastructure project can be unrealistic for very small, rural communities,” said Huffman. “Today’s investment will enable Biggs Junction to meet the health and safety needs of its businesses and small number of residents for years to come.”
The Biggs Service District does not currently have a municipal water system. Instead, it is served by privately-owned water systems, each with its own storage and varying levels of treatment. Additionally, there is no connectivity between the systems, and no capacity to provide sufficient water volume in case of a fire. New building permits are no longer being issued until adequate fire flows can be provided to commercial areas within the district.
With the help of a $1,560,000 loan and a $535,500 grant from USDA Rural Development’s Water and Waste Disposal Program, the Biggs Service District will drill a well to supply drinking water for this small, rural community that primarily serves as a rest and refueling stop for traffic along two major highways. A pump station will be constructed to provide well controls and water treatment, and a 400,000-gallon reservoir will be installed.
The USDA financing will also be used to purchase two of the private wells and upgrade them to provide a backup water source. In addition, a water main line will be installed to serve all district users and to provide the necessary fire flows to enable firefighting activities in the event of an emergency.
Overall, this municipal infrastructure project will ensure this rural community of 22 people and 10 businesses has access to safe, reliable drinking water, the ability to respond to emergencies, and is well positioned for future growth.
Nationwide, USDA is investing $281 million in 106 projects that will benefit 350,000 rural residents. The funding is contingent upon the recipients meeting the terms of the loan and grant agreements.
Rural Development’s Water and Waste Disposal Program financing can be used to build or upgrade drinking water, storm water drainage, and waste disposal systems in rural communities with a population of 10,000 or less. Most state and local government entities, nonprofits, and federally-recognized tribes are eligible to apply. Applications are accepted year-round, and local staff members are available to discuss potential projects.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing, community facilities such as schools, public safety, and healthcare facilities; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. Learn more at www.rd.usda.gov/or.