The U.S. Forest Service is proposing to issue a permit for the city of Bend's controversial $20 million Bridge Creek water pipeline and intake project, in an environmental assessment now posted online.
The Forest Service reviewed the city's latest proposal for the project, after the city last fall dropped a previous plan to take more water from Bridge Creek. A federal judge in October issued an injunction on that plan until legal issues surrounding it were resolved.
The city wants to replace an aging 10-mile pipeline that brings much of the city's water supply from Bridge Creek, in the mountains west of Bend. The city also wants to replace water intake equipment with new technology that will allow the city to withdraw only as much water as it needs. Currently, the city continuously withdraws 18.2 cubic-feet-per-second of water from Bridge Creek regardless of demand, and returns excess water downstream to Tumalo Creek.
Rod Bonacker, special projects coordinator for the Bend–Fort Rock Ranger District, said the 30-day public comment period on the environmental assessment begins today, when official notice of the decision was published.
Bridge Creek Project Manager Heidi Lansdowne said she expects delays to the project will likely increase the cost, although the city has not yet determined how much the price will increase.
For more on the Forest Service's environmental assessment, pick up a copy of The Bulletin tomorrow.