It was like the Toledo City Council got hit with a bucket of ice cold water Wednesday night when Toledo Interim City Manager Don Munkers gave them some very bad news. Munkers told them the city’s much needed new water intake system on the Siletz River is threatened because the Federal Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) cannot get an environment permit to them in time to meet construction and finance bonding deadlines.
A somewhat stunned council wondered aloud how could this be, because they filed all their permits and were scheduled to begin construction this summer so as to have the intake station built and operating by May of next year, in compliance with their finance bonding agreement. If they can’t meet the bonding schedule they’re in default. On top of that, the town’s water supply would be in great danger because the current intake station, according to Munkers, is in a precarious condition. It’s very old.
An angry council asked what could be done to force the NMFS to meet their obligations to get the biological assessment study complete and begin construction. Mayor Ralph Grutzmacher said getting Oregon’s Congressman Kurt Schrader and U.S. Senators Wyden and Merkley on the case is a top priority. Grutzmacher said it was another situation like the Port of Newport found themselves in back in 2010 when the NMFS dragged their feet on the biological assessment for the new headquarters of NOAA’s Pacific Fleet. He said some very effective pressure was put on the NMFS and they quickly got the assessment completed so as to not force major delays in the project.
Grutzmacher and his council are hoping that lightning can strike twice in the same county.