Ground broken on Bend's largest infrastructure project

Secondary expansion of water reclamation facility underway

Waste water expansion groundbreaking

BEND, Ore. - Bend city councilors and public works officials broke ground on Bend's largest infrastructure project in history Thursday. The $43 million secondary expansion of the Bend Water Reclamation Facility got underway.

"Most folks don't know about this facility, but this is where all the waste water in the city comes, and gets treated biologically," said Bend Public Works Director Paul Rheault.

The facility was built back in 1981. It's had a few upgrades since then, but no major changes. With the facility running near capacity, the project will expand the plant from handling 6 million gallons of waste per day to 8.5 million.

Several new buildings will go up., and high-efficiency equipment will be brought in to handle and treat waste.

City councilors unanimously approved the project earlier this year.

"There is no two ways around it," said Councilor Victor Chudowsky. "The two most important things the city can do is bring fresh water to your home, and bring the dirty water away. So this is half of that project."

Within the next few years, officials say the city could have reached a point where they had to turn away new businesses because they couldn't handle the waste.

"We have a responsibility to upgrade the facility and be able to handle all the additional flows that want to come in," Rheault said.

Without the expansion, it also could have stopped major Bend businesses from growing.

"Deschutes Brewery's expansion is a prime example," said Councilor Mark Capell. "If we were not doing this project, they would not be able to expand the way they're doing."

City officials say about three years of work needs to be done, and they hope the project will be complete by the fall of 2015.

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