La Pine is moving forward on a massive $25 million infrastructure project, designed to connect two neighborhoods to the city’s water system while also expanding its overall capacity.

“The sheer volume of the project is pretty unique,” said Brandon Mahon, project engineer for La Grande-based Anderson Perry & Associates, the engineering firm selected for the project.

With an engineer and a mix of funding sources in place, La Pine is moving out of its planning phase and working on designing the project, according to Cory Misley, city manager of La Pine.

“Since I started here, this has been our No. 1 priority,” Misley said.

In 2016, Mahon said Anderson Perry helped La Pine develop its infrastructure report, which identified water and sewer system improvements that should be made over the ensuing two decades as the newly incorporated city continues to grow.

The project would bring city water and sewer infrastructure to around 275 homes that currently use septic tanks, along with several undeveloped lots, in the Cagle and Glenwood Acres neighborhoods, in northwest La Pine. Misley said the expansion would connect two of the last remaining neighborhoods in the city limits to La Pine’s water and sewer system, which he said would improve water quality for the homes.

“From a quality perspective, I would say our system is more consistent (than septic),” Misley said.

However, adding several hundred new connections to the city system would increase demand on the system by more than a third, according to Misley. The city’s infrastructure report concluded the city’s municipal water demand would outstrip its current supply by 2035 as La Pine continues to grow.

La Pine currently uses two wells adjacent to a local reservoir for its water.

The 2016 report assumes an annual growth rate of 2.2 percent for the small city, and Misley said La Pine is actively courting industrial companies, which often lean heavily on water and wastewater systems. Because of that, Misley said the city opted to look at expanding its water and wastewater systems more broadly, adding an additional reservoir, pump station and well to the city’s water system. The city’s wastewater treatment system will also see improvements.

“This was a concept two years ago, contingent on finding a funding source,” Misley said.

Misley said the goal was to ensure the city could add the additional capacity without having rates spike for current property owners on the system. The package includes around $22 million in grants and forgivable loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Department of Environmental Quality and Business Oregon’s Safe Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund.

While Misley said current ratepayers could expect to see a slight increase — between $5 and $10 per month for an average single-family home — he added that the funding package was about as good as La Pine could have hoped for, with the city contributing just under $2.5 million of the overall cost.

“We basically threaded the needle,” Misley said.

Mahon said construction on the project will begin in early 2019, and is expected to conclude in 2021, with construction being done in phases to mitigate the impact on residents.

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