Bend won't appeal state water project ruling

BEND, Ore. - The city of Bend said Thursday it will not appeal a recent decision by Oregon's Land Use Board of Appeals that sent its controversial surface water project plans back to the city for more work.

In early December, LUBA determined Bend's Water Public Facility Plan did not adequately cover the Bridge Creek water project and improperly includes facilities that provide service outside Bend's Urban Growth Boundary. Thursday was the final day the City could appeal LUBA's findings.

LUBA agreed with the city on six other issues raised in the land use challenge, including whether the plan used good information in determining future water demand.

"LUBA concluded the water plan was accurate and complies with land use requirements," the city announcement said. "The city will work to remedy the issues raised by LUBA over the coming months."

Bridge Creek is Bend's main source of drinking water, supplemented by groundwater wells.  Bend is undertaking a project to update and improve the aging Bridge Creek drinking water supply system.

However, the city council may change where Bend goes on the project, as several new city councilors were elected and said they had serious concerns with the city's direction. Central Oregon LandWatch had appealed the city's plans and the land-use board also sided with it on several points, though not all.

Paul Dewey, executive director of Central Oregon LandWatch, said the group is pleased the city won't appeal the decision, and their group won't either. He also said that "as the prevailing party in the litigation," they have filed a request to seek legal fees from the city.

Dewey said the new council now will be able to reevaluate the city's Tumalo Creek diversion project "and other inadequacies/errors in its proposed Water Public Facilities Plan."

"With the city proposing nearly $200 million in new water infrastructure projects, the new City Council needs to cut and prioritize these costs," Dewey said. "The LUBA remand allows the city to reconsider those excessive water projects."

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