State Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, placed a Vale infrastructure upgrade at the top of his project list for federal funding. (The Enterprise/File).

VALE – Upgrading a Vale lift station has been spotlighted to benefit from a massive federal spending program.

 State Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, placed the Vale project at the top of his list for state priorities that could be paid for out of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

The massive federal spending bill is designed to inject $1.9 billion into nation’s economy, including funds for infrastructure and Covid relief.

Under the plan, $4 billion was allocated for Oregon. Each state senator was allotted $4 million to support local community projects.

Findley said the $1 million in federal funds will help solve what has become a lingering problem with the Willowcreek wastewater lift station.

Vale recently applied for a state grant to rebuild the lift station but the federal bailout money will reach the city faster, said Findley.

That means the city will abandon work on the state grant.

The federal funds will be crucial for a new Vale lift station, said Findley.

“They really need it. I am intimately familiar with the health and safety issues associated with that for both the workers and the public,” said Findley, former Vale city manager.

City wastewater travels through Vale’s sewage system to lift stations, where it is pulled up by pumps and deposited into the city’s wastewater lagoon for treatment.

The Willowcreek lift station is old and prone to breakdowns, city officials said. That means wastewater can potentially back up into homes, creating potentially expensive, odorous and health problems.

Not long ago, for example, city crews were deployed to the lift station after a pair of socks jammed it and forced it to shut down.

“We spend a lot of time fixing things on it,” said Todd Fuller, Vale city manager.

While Findley said the federal money isn’t guaranteed – each request from a senator must be vetted by the legislature’s Joint Ways and Means Committee – he is confident the project will be funded.

“I think, for the most part, it will be approved,” said Findley.

Vale Mayor Tom Vialpando said the federal money will be “way huge.”

“That is the main lift station and our folks are going out there quite a bit and taking out random stuff that clogs it,” said Vialpando.

The lift station upgrade will have screens that catch items – such as socks – before they trigger the station to quit.

“I am very excited. I have already been in contact with our engineers of record, Anderson Perry & Associates, and they are on board to get that project engineered,” said Fuller.

Findley said if the money is approved, the city could expect to see funds by September or October.

“It really needs to happen,” said Findley.

The Vale project isn’t the only one allotted for the county.

State Rep. Mark Owens, R-Crane, also requested $455,000 for construction of a new barn at the Malheur County Fairgrounds.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

SAFEGUARD YOUR LOCAL NEWS

Take one action today to help the Enterprise grow and do more for the community through accurate, fair reporting.

SUBSCRIBE: A monthly digital subscription is $5 a month.

GIFT: Give someone you know a subscription.

ONE-TIME PAYMENT: Contribute, knowing your support goes towards more local journalism you can trust.