Don't Surrender Our Surface Water | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Don't Surrender Our Surface Water

Expansion of Bend is a costly project.

A city cannot expand and increase population for free. It takes money, vision, common sense and a will to look into the future beyond the "hood ornament." A successful business always sets aside money for maintenance and improvement to the business. How much did our former mayors participate in this process? The snake oil merchants of yore have "morphed" into a variety of "experts" - attorneys, car salesmen, developers, former mayors, and other self-serving sorts. The amazing thing is these folks storm into our city council meetings,saying this surface water project needs more study! This planning process has been going on for several years. Where have these "nay-sayers" been? Along the way I had concerns that if it were studied anymore we will slam into a federal deadline and our water delivery system would further deteriorate. Keep in mind, this is a cooperative effort to "save" money and install the pipeline and rebuild the road at the same time.

In my opinion; the one who seems to have the most to gain is the most silent, Tumalo Irrigation District. Also the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) jumped in suddenly, being concerned about fishery viability. Why has this not been a concern in the last 33 years? In my opinion ODFW has been more concerned about regulations and revenue. Is greed for water rights an underlying motivator? Following Portland's lead, Bend is working on a variance for the membrane filter. This would put off spending $26 million for a few more years. I say install the building and connections now and install the membrane filter later.

Our aquifer is NOT an unlimited supply of water. We are fortunate to have cheap electricity, but for how long? How long are we going to use "cheap" coal? For the last 100 years, the city of Bend has had a narrow outlook on future growth. Up until recently, growth has been slow and then all of a sudden - BOOM! With the city not setting aside money over the years for infrastructure maintenance and expansion, inadequate SDCs and lack of long-term vision, we are caught in this bottleneck. Somewhere during this long "dance" someone has to pay the fiddler.

Other than building the city sewer system in the 1980s, this surface water improvement and wastewater improvement projects are the largest, most complex, and most expensive projects in Bend's history. On the positive side of the ledger, and tough as it may be, by building this infrastructure in a "down" economy when labor and materials cost less we will save money by acting now, rather than waiting until the economy improves.

This size of project will always have changes along the way quite often generating savings. There is a lot of specialized expertise that goes into a project of this magnitude. That means contracting outside our area. These outside contractors are encouraged to hire local talent when possible. When the economy recovers and folks start moving back to Bend, there will be more folks helping to pay down these project expenses.

A handful of former mayors and their fellow team members with their petition of 1,000 signatures, (last count?) is NOT a resounding demand from a city of 76,000. How about 1.5 percent. Sounds like the tail trying to wag the dog. Instead of forming a PAC, put that money to better use in our community. Bend has plenty of charitable needs. AND we do NOT need another hired consultant with another analysis to figure out if we need to go ahead with THIS project! So folks, let's stop the rhetoric, accusations, "get over" past errors and let's work together toward the betterment of Bend. Let's be proud of our community.

Mike Lovely, Bend

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