June 27, 2018

Wyden, Walden Urge Feds to Help Protect Baker City Water Supply

Oregon lawmakers ask Forest Service to prioritize hazardous fuels reduction near city’s watershed

Washington, D.C. –  Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Greg Walden today urged federal officials to help protect Baker City’s water supply from wildfires by putting a priority on hazardous fuel treatments on and near the city’s watershed.

“We have both heard from community leaders who are concerned about the potential for large scale fire within the watershed and the impacts that would have on the city’s drinking water,” Wyden and Walden wrote the United States Forest Service. “The community stands ready to work with the Forest Service to accomplish this project and mitigate the risk to its water supply.”

The Oregon lawmakers noted in their letter to Regional Forester Jim Peña and Deputy Regional Forester Dianne Guidry that Baker City suffered a cryptosporidium outbreak five years ago that sickened a number of residents. The outbreak also hurt local businesses, causing lay-offs.

“The city invested in ultraviolet treatment of its water supply to good effect,” Wyden and Walden wrote.  “However, that incident reinforced for the community the absolute necessity of safe, clean drinking water.

Wyden and Walden said their staff has worked with Wallowa-Whitman National Forest staff, elected officials and Baker City workers to develop a plan protecting the watershed from wildfire.

The lawmakers’ entire letter is here.