Slide the City, a travelling 1,000-foot water slide, is coming to Bend despite concerns raised in other cities about its use of water in drought-affected regions.
During the City Manager's report at the end of the June 3 City Council meeting, City Manager Eric King authorized the company to purchase water from the City and then dump the wastewater into Bend's sewer system after the event.
To do so, the City had to waive code requirements that prohibit wasting water and dumping water into the sewer with City permission (14.20.020 & 15.20.025). City code also requires that water be used only for beneficial uses. In this case, the City considers recreation of sufficient benefit to justify using an estimated 9,000 to 20,000 gallons of water, according to Slide the City's website.
In some cities, Slide the City has been met with protests by residents who say it's irresponsible to allow a company to come in and use local water for profit when that water is in short supply. Last year in Los Angeles, more than 10,000 people signed a petition asking the City to deny Slide the City a permit. Although thousands of people reportedly purchased tickets for the sold-out event, the City of Los Angeles ultimately denied the permit, primarily due to the statewide drought emergency.
Though Oregon is not (yet) in a statewide drought, Governor Kate Brown recently declared a drought emergency in Deschutes County. Following that declaration, the City of Bend issued a Stage 1 Water Curtailment Alert, encouraging residents—and large water users in particular—to reduce their water usage by 10 percent.
To address this apparent double standard, the City attached conditions to its Special Event approval. If the City reaches a Stage 2 Curtailment on or before September 5, Slide the City will have to get its water from someplace else. If that bumps up to a Stage 3, the permit will be denied and the event cancelled.
While at least two of the indicators for Stage 2 have been met—a drought declaration and increased temperatures/decreased stream flows—City staff say that water supply is their key indicator. To reach a Stage 3 curtailment, and cause the cancellation of Slide the City, the most likely trigger would be water supply reaching 81-90 percent of demand.
For its part, Slide the City uses its website to encourage water conservation, asking participants "to pledge to reduce shower time" among other things. Not included: saying "no thanks" to giant water slides.
Slide the City is scheduled to arrive in Bend September 5.