The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development is providing $11.8 million to establish a reliable water source and build infrastructure to treat drinking water for the rural community of Seal Rock on the Oregon Coast, announced State Director John Huffman.
"Building resilient infrastructure is critical for the health, safety and economic vitality of all communities, but it can be especially difficult for small, rural towns to afford," Huffman said. "With today's funding, Seal Rock will be able to provide safe drinking water for local residents and businesses in good weather and bad."
The Seal Rock Water District currently receives treated water from Toledo. It travels 10 miles through a transmission pipe that passes through tsunami inundation zones and areas prone to landslides and flooding. After a natural disaster, the line is difficult to access. In recent years, the system has failed several times, requiring costly emergency responses to restore service. In the event of a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake, this water source would cease to be available to Seal Rock.
Studies found that the most favorable solution would be to develop the district's own primary water supply from Beaver Creek, for which the district received water withdrawal authorization in 2016.
With the help of a $9,096,000 loan and a $2,799,500 grant from USDA's Water and Waste Disposal Program, as well as $3,481,000 from the State of Oregon, the Seal Rock Water District will install submersible pumps in Beaver Creek and construct a plant that uses membrane filtration to treat the water. The treatment plant will be located above the tsunami impact zone. In addition, the district will build a 500,000-gallon reservoir for water storage. A new water pipeline will be installed, and the new municipal water system will include backup power generators so an electrical outage will not impact service. The facilities will also be designed to promote rapid recovery after a natural disaster, following Oregon's Resiliency Plan.
Overall, this municipal water project will provide a reliable water source and infrastructure that is built to new seismic and tsunami resilience standards, ensuring safe drinking water for this rural community of 4,340 people.
Nationwide, USDA is awarding $135 million in loans and grants for 49 projects to build or upgrade rural water and waste disposal infrastructure in 24 states. 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 for 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 help 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; and high-speed internet access in rural areas.