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The North Santiam River

The project is to create a special sewer district and then design and build a sewer system that will provide infrastructure to the four towns of the Santiam Canyon.  Idanha, Detroit, Gates and Mill City will then be able to provide a sewer system to the homeowners and businesses in the Santiam Canyon.  This will provide opportunity for economic growth and development that has stalled these towns over the past 30 years.  It will also provide safe drinking water and cleaner water downstream for both the communities along the Santiam River and for the endangered fish species.

Why does this matter?  

This project is necessary to protect the North Santiam Watershed from widespread toxic septic system failures. The water from this watershed serves more than 200,000 residents daily.  Three of the four cities have individual septic systems which all have the potential to fail, as they are quite old.  The alternative is that when septic systems or drain fields fail, the cost of septic system replacement will be higher. In some cases where lot sizes are small, shallow water table exists or has an unfavorable soil composition; new septic or occupancy permits cannot be authorized by regulation for the replacement of a septic system. This is a current reality for some properties in Detroit, Gates and Idanha.  Mill City is likely to need upgrades to their current wastewater system in the next decade and can benefit from a joint sewer project. In addition, a sewer system will allow for economic redevelopment of existing properties.


The proposed sewer system will occur between Idanha and Detroit, and between Gates and Mill City.  All four cities will benefit, as economic development for retail and industry will then be possible, as drain field size will not be a factor.  Housing developments will be feasible, as very expensive septic systems will not need to be installed.  The newly constructed home may simply hook up to the sewer system.  


Why hasn't something been done about this before?  Grant funds are necessary as these communities in the Santiam Canyon are severely economically depressed.  The homeowners are on the low end of the socioeconomic spectrum and cannot afford the expensive new septic systems.  Many are retired and on fixed incomes. The grant is the only way that this project can get off the ground.  Initial estimates for individual residential users are to be approximately $44 a month for sewer service, if this system can be developed and built.


What can I do to help? To serve this region,  any wastewater infrastructure must be geologically suitable, environmentally sustainable, financially feasible, and politically viable for these communities located along the North Santiam River.  Visit our FAQs page for more information on how you can contribute to the success of this project