The SWIP (Surface Water Improvement Project) is a $68 million project that will reengineer one portion of Bend’s municipal water system.
In 1998, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) instituted a requirement that surface water systems serving at least 10,000 filter the water for Cryptosporidium. This ruling requires Bend to either discontinue use of water from Bridge and Tumalo Creeks for municipal purposes or put in place a treatment program by 2014. The treatment program as proposed by the City includes 9.5 miles of piping, a hydroelectric plant, an expensive membrane filtration plant, and a new intake facility costing an estimated 68 million dollars of ratepayer money.
The Bottom Line:
- Is this project necessary? No, the need for treatment of water may be delayed and only testing is required, and at least one of the pipes is still in good enough condition that a Value Engineering Study commissioned by the City suggested continuing to use it in order to save approximately $12 million.
- If a request for delay in water treatment is not granted, is the project necessary? No, the City has well water sources equal to several years of growth and the most extreme anticipated emergency scenario. (See data in Alternatives).
- Is there any advantage to having dual sources of water (well and creek water)? No, well water is more reliable in drought and dry seasons, plus it is not vulnerable to interruptions due to fire.
- Is there any advantage to discontinuing use of the creek water source altogether? Yes, besides saving $68 million, the water rights can be leased instream as Sisters and Redmond have done with their surface water rights for years. The City will retain its water rights.
- Do the streams need this water? Yes, presently the summer flow, at 160cfs, is well below the Deschutes River Conservancy's goal for instream flow in the Middle Deschutes River (which Tumalo Creek flows into), which is 250cfs.(Find out about the Deschutes Brewery's recent purchase of 1 billion gallons of water to improve stream flow).
The City has taken a project meant to address Crypto contamination and expanded it to encompass an expensive, massive revamp of the entire water delivery system. However, Tumalo Creek is just one source of Bend’s water, and the City’s own documents project that in the future, most of Bend’s water will come from wells. So why are we spending $68 million to revamp a creek water system that doesn’t even provide us with additional water?
To find out what Bend’s other, more cost-effective and environmentally sound options for drinking water are, click here.
For more background on the SWIP, please visit www.bendwater.info.