By Dylan J. Darling

The Bulletin

The city of Bend plans to have a groundbreaking ceremony next week for the oft-delayed Bridge Creek water supply project.

Staging for the installation of about 7 miles of pipeline under Skyliners Road has already begun and steel pipe should arrive Thursday, said Heidi Lansdowne, project manager for the city.

“So we are starting right now,” she said Monday. “We have a lot of equipment and material to move in.”

The full project, which has been stalled by lawsuits, includes replacement of water intake equipment at Bridge Creek and the installation of one new pipe to replace two old ones. U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken is still weighing a lawsuit brought in November by Bend-based Central Oregon LandWatch and Portland-based WaterWatch of Oregon, a pair of conservation groups, that could stop the updates to the water intake and the installation of the pipeline under and along Tumalo Creek.

Saying it could harm fish and wetlands, the groups are challenging the U.S. Forest Service’s issuing the city a permit for the project. If the groups win in court, the city may have to abandon the pipeline put under Skyliners Road, said Paul Dewey, executive director for Central Oregon LandWatch. He said he thinks the city should wait until the court case is resolved.

“It just seems risky,” he said.

Delays in the project translate to increased costs for city of Bend water ratepayers, Lansdowne said, so the city wants to go ahead with the work as soon as possible.

Installing the pipeline under Skyliners should take about a year, she said, with the first hole to be dug next week. The groundbreaking ceremony is set for March 13.

— Reporter: 541-617-7812,