Bend’s City Council has its work cut out for it in the next few years. The city is faced with fistfuls of necessary but expensive infrastructure improvements, and finding the money for them will be a challenge. The job would be easier, no doubt, if the city could do as some suggested at a recent council meeting and approach those fixes one at time, paying for the first before moving on to the next. Unfortunately, it is unlikely to have that luxury.
The city’s water problems are well known, driven by the threat of failure of an aging system, by looming federal regulations that require an expensive filtering system, and for some, keeping access to a dual source of water.
Two other equally important projects are on the city’s plate as well, and like the surface water project, solving them is likely to be expensive. The city’s sewer system has not seen major improvements since it was expanded in the mid 1970s; it must be upgraded if the city is to grow. At the same time, the city’s system for handling stormwater is notoriously inadequate, leading to flooded underpasses, among other problems.
In all three cases, federal law and regulations will undoubtedly play a major role in determining what must be done and when.
To date, city officials have taken a broad approach to the three, moving forward on them simultaneously. While the surface water project has received the most attention, it’s clear both stormwater and sewer issues are being addressed as well.
That’s as it should be.
All are critical to both the environment and to the health of the city itself, and in each case the city runs the risk of having Uncle Sam step in and determine what must be done whether city residents like it or not.
Knowing that, officials have no choice but to move ahead on all three simultaneously, just as officials have been doing. If city residents hope to control their own destiny where water, sewer and stormwater systems are concerned, there is no other way.