Thanks to U.S. Rep. Greg Walden’s (R-Ore.) help, the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee has directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be flexible with communities on the Long Term 2 Surface Water Treatment (LT2) rule. This rule requires the City to build a treatment plant as part of the Surface Water Improvement Project. The plant is estimated to cost $30 million. The House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee is tasked with providing funding and oversight for the EPA.
Walden says, “the EPA’s inflexibility on an arbitrary deadline” will force the City to raise water rates. More flexibility would allow Bend to sequence compliance in a way that avoids burdensome financial impacts to the community while protecting public health and safety.
“This is good news for Bend ratepayers,” said Bend Mayor Jeff Eager. “One of the most influential committees in Congress has told the EPA and the State of Oregon to work with communities like Bend to introduce more flexibility to the enforcement of the LT2 rule. Congressman Greg Walden deserves a great deal of credit for taking this issue on and asking the Appropriations Committee for help. Bend will continue to work with Congressman Walden, Oregon’s senators, the State of Oregon, and the EPA to keep water rates as low as possible while providing award-winning, safe drinking water.”
Last March, the City Council passed a resolution asking Oregon’s Congressional delegation, including U.S. Rep. Walden and the EPA, to extend the City’s deadline for compliance with the LT2 rule and delay construction of a water treatment plant. This has the potential to reduce water rate increases in the near-term.
The resolution also approved a new project approach in an effort to minimize upfront costs while moving forward with plans to improve the City’s dual-source water supply. This approach prioritizes the replacement of the aging pipelines and intake facility while postponing less critical project elements like the hydroelectric facility to allow for further evaluation.
About the Surface Water Improvement project
The Bend Public Works Department is addressing aging infrastructure and new federal requirements to ensure continued access to cost effective, clean, and reliable drinking water for Bend residents and businesses now and for the future. The Surface Water Improvement Project will update the City’s Bridge Creek water supply system and provide residents continued access to high-quality drinking water by:
• Replacing failing water supply pipelines with a new pipeline under existing roadways.
• Adding flow-control features to the new pipeline; minimizing environmental impacts by only diverting water needed for beneficial use by the City of Bend.
• Providing new state compliant fish screening at the Bridge Creek intake facility site.
Future phases of the project may include building a treatment plant to filter water from Bridge Creek and meet new federal drinking water regulations and building a hydroelectric facility to generate renewable revenue.
More information is available on the project website: www.bendoregon.gov/surfacewater.