Press Release for Jeff Merkley
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Oregon’s Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and Representative Suzanne Bonamici announced that the omnibus spending bill expected to pass the Senate and the U.S. House this week includes key legislative provisions that will help Scoggins Dam get the needed safety repairs and increased water storage that stakeholders in Washington County have been working on for years.
Merkley is the first member of the Oregon delegation since Sen. Mark Hatfield to serve on the Appropriations Committee in either the House or the Senate, and fought in the Senate Appropriations Committee this year to include the Scoggins Dam fix.
“As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, it’s my job to make sure our spending priorities as a nation reflect Oregon’s priorities,” said Merkley. “An arbitrary cap for funding dam safety should not stand in the way of repairs and improvements that could save lives in the event of an earthquake. Washington County has been working to make necessary improvements and repairs to Scoggins Dam for years and this bill puts the future of Scoggins Dam back in the hands of the local community.”
“Scoggins Dam and the waters in Hagg Lake form the heart of the water system in the Tualatin Basin, a region with water needs that could soon outgrow the supply,” said Wyden. “I’ve long fought to make sure the community has the tools it needs to address two of its top priorities – dam safety and long-term water capacity – and I’m pleased that Congress has allowed these much-needed local priorities to move forward.”
“Scoggins Dam provides vital water resources to Washington County, but it needs seismic improvements to help the dam and the surrounding community withstand an earthquake,” said Bonamici. “Access to water is critical to our families, businesses, and agriculture. Improving the safety and storage capacity of Scoggins Dam will support the growing region and is especially important in a time of sustained drought in western states. This has been a long process for Washington County, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to partner with our local, state, and federal leaders to get this passed into law.”
Scoggins Dam has been classified as one of the most seismically at-risk dams that the Bureau of Reclamation manages. This classification means that failure of the dam due to a large earthquake could result in significant damages or even loss of life to communities if they are not upgraded.
The provision included in the omnibus bill will raise the funding cap and help provide necessary upgrades to Scoggins Dam. Additionally, the legislative language provides flexibility to allow projects like Scoggins Dam to create added water storage.