Vale city officials will move ahead with an ambitious plan to rebuild the Willowcreek lift station now that funding is available for the project. (The Enterprise file)

VALE – A major project to upgrade a sewage lift station in town is good to go after action by the Oregon Legislature and state Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale.

Vale City Manager Todd Fuller said last week he received confirmation that $1 million in federal money – passed through the state – plus $100,000 from the state for the Willowcreek lift station.

The lift station is old and prone to breaking down, creating problems for city public works crews for years.

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

When a lift station fails – as is the often the case with the Willowcreek lift station – wastewater can back up into homes, creating expensive and odorous problems. The station serves 680 customers.

The $1 million allocation is Findley’s work, who placed the project on his list of priorities for funding from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a massive federal spending bill designed to inject $1.9 billion into the nation’s economy.

Under the plan, $4 billion was allocated to Oregon and each senator was allotted $4 million for local community projects.

For Findley, the money to upgrade the lift station solves a lingering piece of unfinished business.

“I have wanted to do this for a couple of years,” said Findley, who is a former Vale city manager.

The $100,000 in came from a last-minute funding appropriation – often dubbed the “Christmas Tree” bill – passed by the Oregon Legislature last month. Fuller said the money for the project will most likely reach the city in the next few months. He said construction of the project will begin early next year. Vale Mayor Tom Vialpando said the lift station project is crucial.

“We spend many hours out there cleaning out bras, panties, socks. We are out there almost daily to unclog it,” said Vialpando.

Vialpando said the upgrade will include screens to catch items before they trigger the station to shut down.

“That will save the city money. It will also bolster the system if we get some growth, which we are anticipating,” said Vialpando.

Findley said the money is a one-time outlay and not “a re-occurring cost.”

“The Vale station also checks off a lot of safety boxes,” said Findley.

Anderson Perry & Associates will do the engineering work on the project, said Fuller.

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

Previous coverage:

Vale lift station project tops legislators list for federal funds

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