The city of Bend, the U.S. Forest Service and a local nonprofit will continue settlement talks to resolve their differences over a city water project after a successful meeting in Eugene on Monday, the city manager said.
The parties met Monday in U.S. District Court in Eugene. The nonprofit Central Oregon LandWatch sued in September in federal court to overturn a Forest Service decision to permit the $68 million city water project, portions of which pass through federal lands. Last week, U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken granted a preliminary injunction that halted the project until she rules on the lawsuit or the two sides reach agreement.
City Manager Eric King said the parties will continue to discuss a possible settlement, and another conference is scheduled for Nov. 2.
“We’re making progress," King said.
City officials had hoped to build a new water intake facility at Bridge Creek and a 10-mile-long pipeline to Bend this fall, but it now appears unlikely the federal case will be resolved in time for construction this year. The Forest Service and city closed the road to Tumalo Falls and some local trails on Sept. 26 to prepare for construction, but project manager Heidi Lansdowne said last week the road to Tumalo Falls will likely be reopened to the public by Saturday.
The nonprofit Central Oregon LandWatch alleges the Forest Service failed to adequately study how the project might affect fish and wetlands. LandWatch Executive Director Paul Dewey could not be reached for comment on Monday.
Gary Firestone, assistant city attorney, said both parties agreed to keep the content of the mediation sessions confidential.
— From staff reports