The Bend City Council is poised to vote at a special meeting Friday on a resolution and ordinance laying out their water policy goals in a controversial pipeline project. But a land-use attorney whose group is seeking a second federal court order to again block the project sees nothing in the language to change their objections.
Three days before the city’s deadline for filing its response in federal court, councilors will hold a work session to discuss and likely vote on two items: a resolution “stating council’s policy and commitment to increasing flows in Tumalo Creek and limiting the rate of diversion from Bridge Creek,” and an ordinance adding a new section to Bend city code on surface water withdrawals.
The 11 findings laid out in the resolution goes through the history of the much-debated plan to replace aging pipelines that bring water from Bridge Creek, a tributary of Tumalo Creek, to the city, vowing a commitment to “a sustainable future water supply” and citing steps by the city to improve habitat and water quality.
It says the Forest Service found that that new pipelines would “allow the diversion rate to match demand, and eliminate return flows from the Outback (treatment and storage) site to Tumalo Creek, resulting in more in-stream flow for certain parts of the creek, particularly during winter months.
The city would resolve to cap its diversion from Bridge Creek at a maximum of 18.2 cubic feet per second, as outlined in the revised Forest Service permit.
“This is not a temporary limitation; it is an enforceable condition of the (special use permit),” it states, and the accompanying ordinance also cites the maximum diversion, “to increase the enforceability of that restriction.”
But Paul Dewey of Central Oregon Landwatch told NewsChannel 21 on Wednesday that he has “no idea why the council is proposing this resolution. It is either PR or posturing for the case, since there is nothing new here.”
Dewey said in an e-mail that the cap on water use “is double the current amount the city is … using from Tumalo Creek.” He also noted that “resolutions aren’t permanent and can easily be amended with a simple majority vote of this council or a future council.”
The attorney also scoffed at the city’s support in the resolution of “collaborative processes” on water issues.
“To the contrary, this project is a textbook case on non-collaborative work by the city,” Dewey wrote. “It has ignored the opposition by thousands of people, eight former mayors and professional economists/engineers.”
“Despite all the ‘spin’ in this resolution, the city’s ratepayers are being taken to the cleaners and the flows of Tumalo Creek are going to be reduced,” he added.