The quickest way to jeopardize water quality in La Pine would be for the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission to adopt a recommendation from the Deschutes County Citizens Action Group.
The group, which formed in and around La Pine in part because of environmental requirements, wants to limit how much a new septic system required by the state could cost — only 10 percent more than a standard system.
La Pine has a high water table and there is concern about nitrates getting into the water table. There is also widespread concern about the cost of compliance with environmental regulations. But the recommendation almost guarantees that septic systems installed in La Pine would fail to be good enough to prevent water from being polluted. Standard septic systems can cost $5,000 and up. The Department of Environmental Quality says systems not likely to pollute groundwater cost $16,000 and up.
The Environmental Quality Commission can look for ways to help La Pine residents pay for expensive new septic systems, but it should not support the group’s recommendation and sacrifice water quality.