City of Salem
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News Releases
Salem Successfully Safeguards Drinking Water During 2020 Algal Bloom - 11/19/20

Salem, Ore. — Preparations the City of Salem put in place in 2018 shielded the region's water supply against algal blooms this season in the North Santiam watershed.  

“The concentrated planning, monitoring, and additional treatment steps we’ve taken have been highly effective this algal bloom season,” said Salem City Manager Steve Powers. “I am proud of City staff in our Public Works Department and the Geren Island Treatment Facility.”  

The City’s long-term solution for combatting yearly algae blooms is adding ozone to our treatment process. Ozone is one of the strongest purifiers used to treat drinking water. It produces no taste or odor, and it does not stay in the water after treatment. Ozone treatment is commonly used across the country and throughout the region including Lake Oswego, Tigard, Medford, and Wilsonville. Ozone is also being planned for all modern treatment facilities currently under construction in the region.  

Salem’s state-of-the-art ozone treatment system is currently under construction at the Geren Island Water Treatment Plant and is anticipated to be ready for the Salem community in May 2021. Slayden Construction of Stayton is handling the construction, providing jobs that benefit our local economy.  

For construction updates or more information about Salem’s drinking water, community members can visit the City’s website or contact the City of Salem at  


Salem City Manager Steve Powers
Salem City Manager Steve Powers
Salem City Manager Reaffirms Commitment to Equity and Social Justice (Photo) - 11/19/20

Salem, Ore. -- 

Salem City Manager Steve Powers issued a statement today pledging his and the City's commitment to equity and social justice:

Read statement in signed letter form.

In our community, more than 70 languages are spoken, we are home to more than 20 cultural community hubs and easily more than 30 ethnicities.  Sometimes, the City's work with fellow Salemites flows simply as we look for points of connection and similarities among us. Sometimes, we find and explore differences between ourselves and those we serve.  Sometimes, there are conflicts.

Daily, we cultivate inclusion:

  • We curate diverse collections at the library, so everyone will find both themselves and someone or something new to them as they explore.

  • We examine our customer experience, because we want everyone to be welcomed, to have access, and to be treated fairly – and to feel welcome.

  • We prevent disparate impact to any one population in our work and services, because we want all communities to thrive.

  • We enthusiastically support civil rights.

  • We communicate to as many communities as possible, because we want to engage with everyone in our community.

  • We review job applications without surnames, because we understand we can't prevent our subconscious bias.

  • We investigate bias complaints, because there is no room in Salem for discrimination.

  • We pause and listen when we don't understand someone's point of view.

  • We study our policies and practices to ensure we don't unintentionally exclude.

  • We comply with the city's Salem Revised Code that states all people should fully experience the life of the city.

  • We live our strategic plan mission, vision and values to be a place open to all.

As Salem's City Manager, I am dedicated to serving the best interests of all, achieving equity and social justice, and acting with integrity so that I may earn the trust of all those the City serves. Working to end systemic racism and other violations of human rights is my ethical obligation. I reaffirm my commitment to support my City colleagues in our work serving Salem communities and in developing new ways to reflect ideals that value all people.

I pledge to you to listen, to learn, and to use my voice to amplify the voices of others. I am committed to having Salem be a just and effective local government.

Steve Powers, City Manager

City of Salem

Attached Media Files: Salem City Manager Steve Powers
The City of Salem Delivers Online Data and Mapping Tools Acknowledging GIS Day  - 11/18/20

Salem, Ore.—The City of Salem, celebrates GIS Day today with the release of a new open data platform called Data Salem. The City has been a longtime leader in data sharing and collaboration, publishing one of the first open data sites several years ago.  

Today, on GIS Day 2020, the City is re-launching the site with a new name, improved content, new and easy-to-use features, and many other improvements to empower our users.  The new site has been designed for the community in the spirit of transparency and simplicity, showcasing GIS data and applications that impact decision making in our region. 

Over 20 years?ago, Jack Dangermond, the founder and president of Esri, which is the technology and software company behind GIS mapping, envisioned people collaborating and sharing how GIS affects everyone. Dangermond’s vision led to the establishment of GIS Day, which was first observed in 1999.  

The explosion of geospatial technology since then has expanded that idea into a global event that shows how geography and the real-world applications of GIS are making a difference in business, government, and society. It's a chance for organizations to share their accomplishments and inspire others to discover and use technology.  

“Salem has always enjoyed using GIS Day as a catalyst to educate and empower users.  We will certainly miss the personal interaction this year so we planned the re-launch of our DataSalem site to celebrate how GIS is used in powerful ways,” said Susan Ross-Blohm, Salem’s Information Technology Manager, retiring this year after 35 years in the geospatial industry.  “I will say it one last time… GIS is more than a map.  GIS is a technology platform that has become mission-critical, the “glue” between differing systems, and the way to deliver the transparency, innovation, and communication that our community requires.” 

Today, the City of Salem will join hundreds of organizations worldwide in virtual gatherings that will celebrate the impactful work of GIS professionals and serve to ignite the imagination of future innovators who will further advance global progress using GIS.  For Salem, we invite you to visit DataSalem to celebrate GIS Day and to take a virtual tour of the geospatial maps, apps, and data, prepared for you by Salem GIS staff.  

"GIS Day is a wonderful opportunity for professionals from around the world to get together to share the amazing things they are doing," said Dangermond in a media announcement on the GIS website. "This year, more than ever before, the work of GIS has helped the world better understand and mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. Organizations across the globe are taking part in grassroots events that help celebrate geospatial science and how it impacts the real world for good. Our users should be proud of the work they do, which GIS Day is meant to showcase." 

For more information on how the City of Salem is innovating through GIS technology, visit the city’s website where you can find links to many useful resources about how GIS impacts the work of Salem.  


Salem's New Cogen Facility Saves Money and Converts Waste to Energy - 11/13/20

The Willow Lake Wastewater Treatment Plant is now producing much of the energy it needs to operate, thanks to a new Biogas Cogeneration Facility. The biogas facility responds to two key Salem City Council goals, Natural Environment Stewardship and Good Governance.

“By turning waste into energy, we’re powering the plant, saving money, and protecting our environment,” said Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett.  “Taking pollutants out of the waste stream helps reduce Salem’s impact on the natural environment – one of our Strategic Plan goals,” said Mayor Bennett.  “I’m really excited to see that this facility is up and running.”

This innovative project is one of only 11 similar facilities in Oregon that use biogas, a byproduct of wastewater treatment, to produce renewable energy (YouTube - Cogen Chapter 1). Construction of Salem’s new Cogen Facility was made possible through the support of customers participating in Portland General Electric’s Green Future Program through the Renewable Development Fund, and generous support received from the Energy Trust of Oregon and Oregon Department of Energy.

The City of Salem is a pioneer in the biogas energy. Willow Lake treatment plant has produced of clean, renewable energy from biogas for more than 50 years. The new Cogen facility significantly increases this clean energy output to the point where half of all the power needed to treat Salem’s wastewater is produced at the plant.

The new facility is expected to keep about 5,000 metric tons of pollution-causing gases from being released to our atmosphere every year and will save the City more than $300,000 a year in average annual energy costs based on wastewater treatment costs without a functioning Cogen Facility.

Here’s how Salem’s Cogen Facility Works:

  • Salem area wastewater is piped to the Willow Lake Wastewater Treatment Facility
  • Large material is removed before the wastewater is sent to Aeration Tanks
  • Tiny microorganisms help to break down or digest the wastes with the addition of heat
  • Carbon Dioxide and Methane biogas are released by the microorganisms
  • Cogen captures these gases and converts them into energy that’s used at Willow Lake.

Salem’s new Cogen Facility has just come online.  City staff will be monitoring energy savings and providing updates over the next several months.  Please visit the City of Salem YouTube and social media channels for continued project updates, to view Cogen Video clips (YouTube - Cogen Chapter 1), and to see messages and interviews from project partners.

Salem Grant Now Available to Help Businesses Adapt Outdoor Space for Winter Months - 11/10/20

Salem, Ore. —$200,000 in grant funding is now available for Salem businesses needing temporary outdoor coverings and heaters to meet social distancing requirements during the winter months. Businesses must apply on the City of Salem website between Nov. 10 at 12 p.m. and Nov. 17 at 5 p.m.

On Mon., Nov. 9, Salem City Council approved $200,000 for grants to businesses needing help purchasing or renting temporary outdoor coverings and heaters for cold and rainy months during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 “We know that many local businesses have relied on outdoor space to meet social distance requirements and increase seating capacity. This grant funding is intended to help our businesses through the winter months,” said Salem Mayor, Chuck Bennett.

Grants of up to $10,000 are available to eligible businesses in Salem. Only businesses in Salem city limits will be funded. To verify whether an address is in the city limits, visit the City’s website. Businesses must certify that federal funds were not used for the same purpose. The grant also requires that businesses have a receipt from a recent tent/heater purchase or a bid for the purchase or rental of a temporary outdoor coverings/heaters and describe how the funds will help maintain or grow their business through the winter.

Grant program information and applications are available on the City of Salem website. Grant applications open Tues., Nov. 10, 2020 at 12 p.m. and closes Tues., Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. If applications total more than the funding available decisions will be made via lottery.

For more information, visit our grant information page, email">, or call 503-540-2480 or 503-540-2425.  

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Alert for Downtown Salem, Threats of Vandalism and Property Damage - 11/06/20

For Immediate Release
November 6, 2020

Alert for Downtown Salem, Threats of Vandalism and Property Damage

Salem Ore., The City of Salem has been alerted to credible information of activity tomorrow in or near Salem’s downtown with a high likelihood of vandalism and property damage. Police and the City is urging residents and businesses in our downtown to take precautions.

 “Community safety is a top priority,” said Steve Powers, Salem City Manager. “We are getting this notice to our public as soon as we learned of the possible threats and have made direct contact with downtown businesses. Our police department has increased police officers for Saturday and activated our special teams.”

The City does not believe the groups who are planning to come to Salem are affiliated with any of our known community organizers.

The City will continue to post meaningful updates to its website at and through the Salem Police Department Twitter account.

Reports of suspicious activity or crime in progress should go to 9-1-1. Non-urgent calls can go to the non-emergency line at 503-588-6123, and press option 1 to speak with a call taker

Floating Boat Docks Removed Until Spring at Wallace Marine and Minto Brown Island Parks - 11/04/20

The City of Salem will remove the floating boat docks at Wallace Marine Park and Minto Brown Island Park on Wed., Nov. 4, 2020. The floating boat docks are removed in mid–to-late Fall each year to prevent them from collecting debris, being damaged, or being carried away as river levels rise. They will be reinstalled when water levels recede in the spring.

River levels for the Willamette River near Salem are monitored to determine when the floating boat docks at the Wallace Marine Park and Minto-Brown Island Park boat ramps need to be removed for the fall and winter seasons.

Contact City of Salem Public Works at 503-588-6336 for more information.

Ward 1 Salem City Councilor Cara Kaser
Ward 1 Salem City Councilor Cara Kaser
Councilor Cara Kaser Resigns (Photo) - 11/02/20

Salem, Ore. — Cara Kaser resigned today as Salem City Councilor, stating that she and her husband have moved out of Ward 1.

Her resignation won’t become official until it is accepted by the Salem City Council and the position declared open.

 “To my Ward 1 constituents: It’s been an honor to serve as your City Councilor these past four years, and I want to thank you for entrusting me with this responsibility,” Councilor Kaser said today. “Volunteering and being elected to serve in this role was an opportunity that few get a chance to take, and something I never imagined doing when I first moved into Ward 1. Through this experience, I’ve met so many people in Ward 1 who are dedicated to making their neighborhoods and community great places to live.”

Councilor Kaser was elected to the Salem City Council in 2016. She served on the Police Facility Committee and Water/Wastewater Task Force. Prior to her election, she served as a member of the Grant Neighborhood Association, the Salem Historic Landmark Commission, the Central Salem Mobility Study, and as an after-school robotics teacher at Grant Community School.

Her term was set to expire at the end of 2020. She did not seek re-election.

Councilor Nominee Virginia Stapleton is the only candidate for Ward 1 on the November 3 ballot, after earning the highest number of votes in the 2020 primary election. She is expected to take office at the first Salem City Council meeting of 2021.

At their October 26 meeting, the Salem City Council approved an amendment to Council Rule 21(a) that allows a councilor-nominee or councilor-elect to serve as a non-voting guest councilor at regular and special Council meetings multiple times.