Newport spending millions on aging water infrastructure, receives donation

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Pacific Seafood is donating money to the city after a billing error on its account

Workers at Pacific Seafood in Newport, Oregon, July 2, 2020. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Newport is planning on spending millions to update its aging water infrastructure, and a local company is helping the cause.

Pacific Seafood donated more than $250,000 to assist the city in maintaining, upgrading and addressing its older water infrastructure. The donation came from a billing error after the city accidentally overcharged the company through a compound water meter.

Newport City Manager Spencer Nebel said that “generous action” comes at an important time for the city’s water fund.

“It’s critical for us to be able to provide the water that’s needed for all our customers,” said Nebel. “It’s also critical for the operation of businesses like Pacific Seafood to make sure they have a reliable water source to process the fish that are imported all over the country and the world out of Newport.”

Pacific Seafood operates five seafood processing facilities along Newport’s working waterfront. According to the city, the company is one the city’s largest employers, and the commercial fishing industry is the largest single contributor to net earnings in Lincoln County.

Last summer, Pacific Seafood had to temporarily halt production at the city’s request due to the city not being able to produce enough water.

Nebel said that Newport has been actively engaged in infrastructure replacement for about the last decade considering the city’s infrastructure is between 80 to 100 years old.

“We have to ultimately replace our reservoir and our dams, which is about an $80 million project that will be coming up at some point in the next few years,” he explained.

After the state’s last legislative session, Oregon lawmakers allocated $14 million to help Newport with the costly project.

The city is also investing $500,000 on a project to mix more raw water to help eliminate organic solids from clogging water filters.

With most of the state of Oregon in a drought, Nebel hopes people can appreciate the water they have and conserve as much as possible.

“We all need to value water as a resource and certainly limit the waste of it. From a city standpoint, we want to make sure that we’re building it correctly in the future,” he noted.

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