Having two wells out of commission at the same time didn’t imperil water flow in Bend this summer. There’s plenty of capacity in the system, even for the city’s heavy summer use.
It did, however, reinforce the importance of preserving the city’s two sources of water, an issue that has been central to the controversy about the city’s planned surface water project.
Right now, Bend depends on 23 groundwater wells plus two pipelines delivering surface water from Bridge Creek. One day last week, use was almost evenly split between the two sources, with 12.4 million gallons coming from the wells and 11 million from Bridge Creek.
Two of those wells were out of commission at the same time recently. One from the Outback facility ran into trouble in May and is still being repaired. In early July, a pump motor on a well at Pilot Butte failed, with repairs completed Friday.
Opponents of the city’s plan to upgrade the Bridge Creek system have urged the city to depend more on wells. They say the Bridge Creek plan is unnecessary and too expensive. Some have also made it clear that increasing water flow in the creek is a high priority.
We have no argument with the value of saving money and ensuring healthy water flow, but we think city officials have a critical responsibility to preserve both water sources. Things go wrong; regulations change. Either of the two sources might be imperiled in the future. It would be foolish to let either one wither.
City officials may well be faulted for failure to engage the public early in the planning for the Bridge Creek upgrade, but they’ve certainly listened thoroughly more recently. More than one City Council has decided to go forward with the plan, and we think city officials have made a good case for the need for pipeline and other upgrades to the Bridge Creek system.
Opponents’ tactics to stop the project have delayed it and likely increased its costs significantly. They have not, however, eliminated the need it addresses.