By Hillary Borrud
Bend officials announced a new strategy this morning to obtain environmental approval for the $20 million Bridge Creek water intake facility and pipeline project.
The current city proposal would allow Bend to take more water from Bridge Creek after the project is built, but that plan stalled after opponents sued in federal court to overturn the U.S. Forest Service permit for the project.
Under the plan announced today, the city will submit a new proposal to the Forest Service that would maintain the current limit on city water withdrawals from Bridge Creek, said Mayor Jeff Eager.
If the city wants to take more water from the creek in the future, it would have to offset the additional amount, Eager said. This often involves purchasing water rights from other agencies or individuals.
A U.S. District judge issued an injunction in October that halted the project until the legal issues around the project were resolved. Central Oregon LandWatch had filed a federal lawsuit, alleging the city and Forest Service failed to adequately consider how the water project might hurt fish and wetlands.
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