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Salem seeks millions to improve drinking water system

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SALEM, Ore. (AP) — City leaders in Salem, Oregon, met with state legislators last week to discuss the earliest stages of funding an $80 million plan to fortify the city’s water system and ensure drinking water is free from harmful algal toxins.

The Statesman Journal reports the plan includes developing an ozone contact chamber to remove cyanotoxins, digging wells to provide a backup water supply and building berms to protect the treatment plant next to the North Santiam River from flooding.

Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett and Public Works Director Peter Fernandez said they will ask the state to help pay for the upgrades, though they have yet to present a proposal to legislative leaders and aren’t sure what form their request might take.

The need for cleaning out cyanotoxins and developing a backup water system became apparent to city officials last summer when Salem experienced a month-long drinking water crisis.

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