January 22, 2012 - Bend Bulletin - Deadline set for water decision

Jan 23, 2012

January 22, 2012 - Bend Bulletin - Deadline set for water decision

Deadline set for water decision

City manager says Bend must choose by fall, regardless of EPA

By Scott Hammers / The Bulletin
Published: January 22. 2012 4:00AM PST

Bend has until September or October to decide whether it will proceed with the Bridge Creek water system, City Manager Eric King said Saturday.

King and other elected officials and community leaders met Saturday morning at the Bend Chamber of Commerce offices with Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River, to discuss the congressman’s efforts to push back an October 2014 deadline to begin treating city water for cryptosporidium, a potentially deadly microorganism. Friday, Walden sent a letter to the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, asking the federal government to grant the city flexibility in meeting the deadline.

If the EPA does not grant an extension by this fall, King said the city must decide if it wants to go ahead with the project without facilities to remove cryptosporidium and risk getting fined by the agency.

Walden said he expects the EPA will respond soon, but made no promises whether his request will be granted.

In the meantime, he encouraged the city, the chamber, Economic Development for Central Oregon, state Rep. Jason Conger, R-Bend, and state Sen. Chris Telfer, R-Bend, to send their own letters making the case for an extension.

The Bridge Creek project would replace aging pipes that transport up to 11 million gallons of water a day from the city’s surface water source about 10 miles west of Bend.

Compliance with the cryptosporidium standard is estimated to cost the city $30 million of the $68 million Bridge Creek project. The city contends building the water treatment facility to deal with cryptosporidium now would create too great a financial burden on local utility customers.

Portland and New York City have both recently been granted extensions to comply with federal cryptosporidium requirements, Walden said, calling the extensions “a glimmer of hope.”

“We are not alone in this situation. Everybody is facing it a little bit differently,” he said.

Regardless of what happens with the EPA, the pipes between Bridge Creek and the city will have to be upgraded, King said. He said a water supply solely reliant on wells is not an option.

“We want to be in a position for growth, we don’t want to be turning businesses away because we don’t have an adequate water supply,” King said.

Current estimates suggest the Bridge Creek project will add $5 to $7 to the average monthly residential water bill.

— Reporter: 541-383-0387, shammers@bendbulletin.com

Published Daily in Bend Oregon by Western Communications, Inc. © 2011

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