Bend should stick with water plan

Water is back on the Bend City Council’s agenda for tonight’s meeting and that means another clash over the surface water project.

The council should stick with its plan to move ahead with a new pipeline and intake facility. It will help to ensure Bend’s future water needs through surface water and wells.

A handful of critics are calling for the City Council to start over, and they have thrown out some allegations that don’t hold water. Here are just a few:

Paul Dewey, the executive director of Central Oregon Landwatch, has called the city’s plan a “dewatering” of Tumalo Creek.

The plan is actually to take the same maximum amount of water from the creek that the city takes now — about 18 cubic feet per second.

With the existing pipelines, the city has to take all 18 cfs or nothing. With the new pipeline, the city will be able to take less when it needs less — leaving more water in the creek. That’s not dewatering. It’s better for the creek.

Critics also feel Councilor Jodie Barram broke a promise to reconsider the entire water project.

The critics heard what they wanted to hear. Mayor Jim Clinton was at meetings where Clinton, Barram and others discussed how a reconsideration of the project might take place. Clinton says Barram made no promise to support a reconsideration. Barram says she made no such promise. We have disagreed with both of them from time to time, but Clinton and Barram are not liars.

Critics have also asserted that Councilor Victor Chudowsky’s position on the water project is not exactly the same as it was when he campaigned. Actually, it is.

Chudowsky had questions then. He researched options. He will continue to have questions about it.

Critics haven’t pointed it out, but Councilor Sally Russell, who supported the reconsideration of the entire water project, has changed her position. When she interviewed with The Bulletin’s editorial board before the election, it appeared work on the pipeline was about to start. She had questions and concerns about the surface water project. She told us then that if we had asked her a year earlier about the pipeline and about whether construction should go ahead, she might have had a different answer. But she said in that meeting that the city was too far along to start over on that aspect of the project.

Should Russell be criticized because she doesn’t hold the same position now? No. That would be ridiculous.

It’s easy to criticize a project when you can define it however you please, can choose what you want to hear, and hold politicians to unrealistic positions. Bend residents shouldn’t buy those allegations.