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Bend Council Moves Forward Toward Controversial $70M Water Project

The Bend City Council adopted a new plan laying out the future of the city’s water systems Wednesday night. The plan reiterates the council’s intention to move ahead with a controversial overhaul of city’s surface water system.

Bend’s water plan has been the source of numerous protests, petitions and lawsuits over the last year. Many opposed the plan’s initial $70 million price tag. Others were concerned about the effect on fish. Last November, opposition seemed to reach a high water mark, when voters tapped three new councilors who were outwardly critical of the project.

But twice now, opponents have been unable to muster the votes needed to revisit the plan’s central component — the replacement of 10 miles of aging underground pipe – and the city’s continued reliance on water from Tumalo Creek.

This latest public facilities plan revises an earlier version remanded by Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals after a challenge by the conservation group, Central Oregon Landwatch.

That group’s Executive Director Paul Dewey says he wants to review the city’s new plan before saying whether he’ll file another appeal.