Residents Will Help Fund the $300 Million Upgrade to Medford’s Wastewater Facility

MEDFORD, Ore. — The $300 million upgrade to Medford’s Regional Wastewater Reclamation Facility (RWRF) that serves the Bear Creek Drainage Basin, including Eagle Point and White City but excluding Ashland, will come at a cost to the 160,000+ residents of the area.

The Medford Public Works department has completed a preliminary plan for expanding and improving the city’s reclamation system that treats and cleans 18 million gallons of waste daily.


Sewer Rate Increases Spread Across Eight Years

Residents of Medford and surrounding areas will help fund the wastewater reclamation project with gradual increases to sewer rates spread across eight years. The sewer rate increase could reach more than $30 a month by the end of that period.

Currently, sewer treatment rates for single-family residences cost $9.79 monthly.

It takes infrastructure to treat what is flushed down toilets and to discharge it safely into The Rogue Valley River, a recreation facility loved and used by most residents of the area, says Medford Public Works director John Vial.

Vial says that while no one wants to pay more for services, upgrades at the wastewater plant are necessary to maintain the quality of the water discharged into the Rogue River Basin.

Currently, the reclamation plant can no longer meet permit conditions that call for sewage water to be treated and cleaned to a certain standard before discharge into the environment. Vial says the plant cannot meet the required standards unless upgraded.

The Public Works director points out that the upgrades will ensure that the reclamation plant produces cleaner water that will meet federal permit conditions.

City-issued revenue bonds and a loan from the Environmental Protection Agency will finance most of the $300 million for the project.


RWRF Upgrade and Financing Plan

Last August, the Medford Public Works Department published an upgrade and financing plan for the Regional Wastewater Reclamation Facility.

The report illustrates how the population served by the wastewater reclamation facility will grow from 145,150 in 2010 to a projected 212,250 by 2045, underlining the need for upgraded facilities.

In 1970, the reclamation plant underwent major reconstruction with further expansions since 1980.

To meet permit requirements of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), the current project will:

  • Submit preliminary plant design by 1 September 2024
  • Submit final plant design by 1 September 2026
  • Complete new plant construction to meet all permit conditions by 1 September 2028
  • Meet all new permit conditions by 1 September 2030


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