Bend agrees to added Tumalo Creek monitoring

Councilors also scale back noise violation fee, require decibel meter use

BEND, Ore. - U.S. Forest Service officials met with the Bend City Council on Wednesday to review the environmental assessment and proposed requirements for environmental monitoring for the city's controversial Bridge Creek water project.

The USFS proposes extensive additional monitoring of stream flows, temperature and fisheries in Tumalo Creek.  The tests will be conducted to improve the understanding of the stream's hydrology and fisheries.  

Bend's water withdrawal will be limited to an average rate of diversion of 18.2 cubic feet per second (cfs) over a 60-minute period — less than the city's water rights allow.

During construction, the Forest Service will oversee monitoring of raptors, roosting bats and western bumblebees near the construction site to determine if these species are present.

Finally, the city, through a contract with the Forest Service, will re-vegetate disturbed areas with native plants sourced on-site, then monitor the plantings for several years.

The city's water facilities are located in the Deschutes National Forest, triggering the need for environmental review and federal permits.  The Forest Service's environmental assessment is currently available for public comment.

Bend proposes to replace the aging pipelines that carry drinking water to the city from Bridge Creek.  The new pipeline will be moved out of the forest and installed within the right-of-way for Skyliners Road.

The water intake facility will also be upgraded, with screens installed to protect fish.  New controls will reduce the amount of water withdrawn from the stream.

Bend City Engineer Tom Hickmann confirmed that the city is ready to comply with the Forest Service's proposed conditions.

"These are much more stringent than the conditions for Bend's current permit, but the additional monitoring is needed to ensure there's no harm to fish or wildlife," Hickmann said.

If the Forest Service permits are issued as proposed -- and barring another legal challenge by opponents --, construction will begin later this year and take about 18 months.  

"This project is ready to go," emphasized project engineer Heidi Lansdowne.

The council also spent a great deal of time Wednesday night again discussing the city's noise ordinance. In the end, they unanimously approved some relatively minor changes unanimously -- but more importantly, unanimously approved two amendments by council members.

The first, by Councilor Sally Russell, cut the fine for first-time violations from $750 to $250.

A second amendment by Councilor Victor Chudowsky will require that police use a decibel meter to check noise levels before citing any commercial establishment for a violation.

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