Editorial: Find a way to pay for dredging Mirror Pond

September 17, 2018
Editorial: Find a way to pay for dredging Mirror Pond

More than a century ago, Bend’s Mirror Pond was formed by a dam in the Deschutes River. But the pond that is so emblematic of Bend is in trouble. And nobody seems all that eager to pay to dredge it before it becomes mostly mudflat.

Bend city councilors are scheduled to discuss the issue on Wednesday. They should find a way to pay for the dredging.

The pond’s issues aren’t limited to dredging. The banks could use some restoration. The Bend Park & Recreation District is taking care of that. It is going to restore the riverbank and redo trails along Mirror Pond for $6.5 million. City stormwater and sediment also pour directly into the pond through about a dozen city pipes. The pond shouldn’t be a city stormwater dump. The city has long-term plans to spend more than $11 million to fix that.

But without dredging, the pond will gradually look more and more like a mudflat with a river channel in the middle. The park district and the city haven’t seemed all that interested in chipping in the estimated $6.4 million to dredge and maintain the pond. They could do it, though it would mean cutting money spent on other parks, roads or public safety.

The better choice would be to come with up a funding mechanism to pay to dredge the pond. The best option we have heard would be a change in the city franchise fee on Pacific Power, which owns the dam and that creates the sediment backup. That fee would be passed on to Bend ratepayers. It might add about $8 a year to a household electric bill in Bend, according to one estimate.

We don’t expect ratepayers to rejoice at paying $8 more a year. But it is a small amount for a community benefit. Councilors should pass the fee change or come up with some other way to save the pond.

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