Hundreds of Bend homeowners near a new sewer line won’t have to spend thousands of dollars to connect to the city sewer just yet.

The Bend City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to allow homeowners in a 550-home area in southeast Bend to keep repairing their septic systems as the city continues to look for the best way to connect these new homes. City code now requires any property within 300 feet of a sewer line to connect to the sewer instead of repairing a failing septic system.

An interim solution is necessary because of how quickly the new southeast interceptor sewer line is being completed, City Manager Eric King said.

“The southeast interceptor is ahead of schedule,” King said. “It’s moving a lot faster than we expected.”

Portions of the sewer line under Murphy Road, King Solomon Lane, Orion Drive, Camelot Place, Reed Market Road and 27th Street have been completed. The final portion, under Neff Road and Purcell Boulevard, is now under construction and is expected to be finished in the spring.

The city estimates connecting to the sewer as septic systems fail would cost property owners between $30,000 and $80,000. Currently, connecting to the sewer could also be more expensive for some residents than others.

If a property owner who lives 290 feet from the sewer line has his or her septic system fail first, he or she would have to pay for a whole section of pipe connecting back to the main line. Neighbors who live closer would be able to tie into the pipe laid by the first property owner.

Instead, the city is considering paying for the connections through such mechanisms as a local improvement tax district, connection charges, sewer surcharges or separate sewer rates in the area.

It will take some time for the city to figure out how to pay for those new sewer connections. In the meantime, Wednesday’s decision provides options for three types of homes with failing septic systems: homes directly along the main sewer line, homes within 300 feet and homes more than 300 feet away but included in the 550-home study area.

Homes directly along the sewer line and near a stub out in the pipe must connect to the sewer when their septic systems fail. The other two types could continue repairing their septic systems, provided they agree to eventually connect to the sewer and accept whatever financing strategy the city settles on.

— Reporter: 541-633-2160; jshumway@bendbulletin.com

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