A U.S. House subcommittee is putting pressure on the Environmental Protection Agency to relax the rule that governs how cities treat their surface water sources. City leaders in Bend hope the pressure might give them more time to build a water treatment facility.
The House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee signed off on EPA funding for 2013, and at the same time directed the environmental agency to provide maximum flexibility for smaller cities like Bend to comply with the rule. Oregon Rep. Greg Walden pushed for the language that was included in the committee report.
Bend Mayor Jeff Eager says his city is facing a 2014 deadline to build a $30 million water treatment plant. At the same time, the city's water intake facility is due to be replaced.
"We'd very much like to stagger those projects so there isn't such a large impact on ratepayers," Eager says.
While the subcommittee's insructions are intended to express the will of the committee members, they're not binding and the EPA doesn't have to act on them.