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Building the Capacity of Drinking Water Systems


State Agencies Supporting Water System Partnerships

Oregon Health Authority 

State Policies and Programs Regarding Water System Partnerships


Oregon Revised Statutes allow counties to develop a water service plan in which small systems are encouraged to “combine management functions and…consolidate where possible” (2015 Oregon Revised Statutes 448.165). In addition, the many different types of water entities in Oregon (domestic water supply districts, people’s utilities districts, water authorities or joint water and sanitary authorities, and water control and improvement districts) can enter into cooperative agreements with each other and can merge and consolidate. Mergers, consolidations, and annexations must be approved by the governing body of the districts and in general, the rights, responsibilities, obligations, and liabilities of the districts survive the merger, consolidation, or annexation and flow to the newly created entity. 


Oregon’s DWSRF uses the Disadvantaged Communities additional subsidy to consolidate non-viable systems by providing principal forgiveness and reduced interest loans for PWSs that are willing to take over a Disadvantaged Community system. In most cases, this will consist of a project to run supply to and replace the distribution system in the Disadvantaged Community.


Oregon’s Capacity Development Program encourages partnerships between PWSs to enhance TMF capacity through training, education, and outreach. The benefits of partnerships and the sharing of information for emergency operations to gain capacity and stay in compliance are key topics during technical assistance outreach and manager/operator training programs.


The Oregon Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (ORWARN) is composed of member utilities providing voluntary assistance to each other during an emergency incident. ORWARN facilitates rapid, short-term deployment of emergency services, in the form of personnel, equipment and materials, that are required to restore critical operations to utilities that have sustained damages from natural or man-made events.

Helpful Links to State Resources