Port of Morrow Seeks $432.5M Loan from Feds for Improvements

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The Port of Morrow announced Friday, May 19, the Environmental Protection Agency has selected the port’s application for a loan to cover up to 80% of the cost to upgrade industrial wastewater reuse system.

These upgrades will meet state environmental standards and reduce groundwater use, and they come with a substantial price tag. EPA has invited the port to submit its full request for $432.5 million in loan financing.

The EPA provides financing for critical, large-scale water infrastructure projects under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, or WIFIA, and that act will help achieve $582 million in overall wastewater improvements that will exceed goals set forth in the second action plan the Lower Umatilla Basin Groundwater Management Area enacted.

The total project covers these components:

  • Anaerobic digesters
  • Secondary treatment
  • Winter storage lagoons
  • Wastewater pond solids removal
  • Rebuilt South Lift Station and South Lift Line
  • Land application expansion
  • Internet Parkway utility improvements
  • East Beach water treatment facility and utility improvements
  • Airport water treatment facility
  • Automated cyber security

A surface water treatment system also is included to help lower the port’s use of groundwater.

The port a week earlier announced it met a 30% design milestone in the planning for the major investment to upgrade and expand its industrial wastewater system.

The port’s industrial wastewater system processes 3.5 billion gallons of wastewater generated by local employers. The system supports $2.77 billion in local economic output annually and almost 8,500 local jobs. It also benefits local farmers by providing a less costly, safer alternative to commercial fertilizers.

Construction is underway, with improvements completed in 2025. The system would be fully operational by November 2025. The cleanup of an existing storage lagoon, which will add to the new system’s capacity and redundancy, should be completed by 2027.

Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Rep. Cliff Bentz have sent letters of support to EPA on behalf of the Port. Merkley is the author of the WIFIA program.