Bend water filtration plant has clear sailing

While legal cloud remains over pipeline replacement

BEND, Ore. - While the city of Bend's controversial water pipeline replacement project still faces some legal challenges down the road, another big-ticket city water facility is full-speed ahead.

With no legal appeals filed, Deschutes County's recent land use approval of Bend's water filtration plant is final, city officials said Wednesday.

As a result, the city and contractor Mortenson Construction will begin work on the filtration plant as early as next month.

The city is required by state and federal law to treat its Bridge Creek water source for Cryptosporidium, a parasite that caused the recent gastrointestinal illness outbreaks in Baker City.

Bend's new membrane filtration plant, now expected to cost $33.5 million, will meet this public health requirement and also remove silt and other particles from the creek, ensuring it will be a reliable, year-round water source – even if there is a fire in the forested watershed.

"Moving forward on this important public health project without further costly delays and legal challenges benefits our customers," says Heidi Lansdowne, project manager for the filtration plant.

In December, the city submitted a site plan to Deschutes County for land use approval for the water filtration facility at the Outback site off Skyliners Road. The project includes a new two-story membrane filtration facility, stormwater facilities and site grading and pavement improvements.

On March 18th, the county hearings officer approved Bend's water filtration land use application. The hearings officer determined the city's proposal to build the Outback Filtration Plant is consistent with the county's approval criteria. 

"This is one of the finest water supplies in the U.S., and our water rights to this source are probably the most valuable asset the city owns. I'm happy the County is giving us the green light," said City Councilor Victor Chudowsky.

The approval comes with standard conditions that must be met before project completion. The approval conditions include:

  • Shielding exterior lighting
  • Providing required parking and loading spaces
  • Protecting trees and shrubs located outside of the developed area
  • Continuing to maintain and monitor landscaping
  • Installing walkways that comply with ADA requirements
  • Meeting Bend Fire Department requirements  

Meanwhile, the city has begun work on the pipeline replacement to Bridge Creek, a tributary of Tumalo Creek. A federal judge refused to issue a second injunction further delaying work timed to coincide with the Skyliners Road rebuild, but opponents will get another chance this summer to try to block further work closer to the intake site along the creek.

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