REEDSPORT -- City officials will receive $94,075 to replace aging wood piling at a levee pump station with steel ones.

The city will have a meeting in late August through the State Office of Emergency Management to get an update on the funding.

City Manager Jonathan Wright said Federal Emergency Management Agency personnel are providing the money, which then flows to Oregon and then to Oregon communities that qualify. The total amount is $125,445. Of that, city personnel are requesting the $94,075. In turn, city personnel must provide $31,370 in local matching funds from the city's storm water fund.

"The pilings are 40 years old," he said, adding that when the Elm Avenue pump station motor vibrates, over time that damages the wood piling. "This one's just for earthquake upgrades."

Laborers will drill in four new steel pilings. The current wood pilings only go down eight feet deep. City officials estimate that the new pilings will dig down 40 feet.

"The Elm Avenue pump station is the one that serves the entire downtown area," Wright emphasized.

Because the area is downhill from the Umpqua River, water must be pumped out. In turn, that means more city costs year by year.

"The electricity on that (the Elm Avenue station) averages around $800 a month," City Manager Wright said.

Current depth will improve with new steel pilings. Wright estimated the four new pilings will dig into the earth at least 40 feet deep.

"These improvements will increase safety to downtown businesses as well as to the public, which traverses Highway 38," he said. "It also is another step to levee certification."

According to the FEMA guidelines, all work on the Elm AVenue station must be done by Aug. 30, 2019.

"At this point, we're doing pre-engineering," the city manager added.

Reedsport has several pump stations, which workers installed in the early 1970s. Its levee system, intended to hold back flood waters, was built in 1968.

"We are extremely hopeful that we can get this done before the winter given FEMA's timeframes," Wright said. However he said if workers don't replace the wood pilings by the end of this summer then the fall back plan consists of "installing an emergency access point should the pump station fail this winter (for bypass pumping)."

The winter of 2016-2017 hit the Gardiner-Reedsport area hard along with the rest of the South Coast, with above average rain flow levels.

Wright and others at City Hall would like to purchase a 6-inch diameter diesel pump but the equipment cost more than the city could afford. Then city staff applied for grants for a new pump, which the city received earlier this year.

With an access point, this means city crews can release water without shutting down Highway 38.

The Umpqua Post Editor Shelby Case can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 296 or shelby.case@theworldlink.com.

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Umpqua Post Editor