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A Letter from Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley

Newsletter from Jeff Merkley


Dear Friend, 

For decades, stakeholders and community leaders in Washington County have been working hard to make much-needed upgrades and repairs to Scoggins Dam. These repairs are critical to protecting our communities if a large earthquake hits, and to ensuring we have enough drinking, and irrigation water to meet the demands of a fast-growing part of our state while protecting local ecosystems and wildlife. 

Recently, we took a big step forward in getting this work done. 

In December, the Senate passed legislation that will allocate resources and raise the funding cap for infrastructure projects, like Scoggins Dam, that would retrofit dams for earthquake safety. The legislation also allows flexibility for state and local funding to create additional project benefits, such as constructing additional water storage, during the infrastructure upgrade. 

Learn more about our work to improve Oregon's local infrastructure >> "Merkley, Wyden, Bonamici Announce Support for Scoggins Dam in Key Legislation" 

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 it is not upgraded. 

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. 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 legislation puts the future of Scoggins Dam back in the hands of the local community. 

This is a great step, but there's still more work ahead to make Oregon safer and improve our local infrastructure. I look forward to fighting for our Oregon priorities in 2016. 

All my best,