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New Bend elementary to open on septic system


As thousands of southeast Bend residents anxiously wait to learn more about city help with a costly sewer hookup bill coming their way, a new elementary school being built on the city’s north end will be put on a septic system and not connected to the city sewer.

The new school is going up on Cooley Road at O.B. Riley Road and already has been annexed into the city limits, but there’s no city sewer in that area yet. The closest sewer line is south of the site, more than 2,000 feet away.

If the school had been within 300 feet, then the school district would have been required to hook up to it.

City Engineer Ryan Oster told NewsChannel 21 Friday the city worked with Bend-La Pine Schools and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and looked at short-term and long-term needs of the entire area.

He said they all agreed it was the best idea to put the new school on septic until the city can bring in a gravity-fed sewer line from the north.

“It seemed like a little bit of a waste to require them to build 2,000, 2,500 lineal feet of a pressure (sewer) system into a (pumping) station that already had questionable capacity issues,” Oster said.

“Instead, we can just let them go on septic for a while, and then when the North Interceptor (sewer line) is available, they’ve agreed to decommission the septic system and then hook on and be on the city system.”

The North Interceptor Project is in Bend wastewater master plan, and the city is working on the first couple phases, which should be complete within five years.

Oster explained it’s going to be a while before the sewer line reaches the school. When it’s available in the area, the district will be required to make a change.

“Part of the master plan, and that they agreed to and we negotiated with them, is that as soon as sewer is available to the school district site, they decommission their septic system, and they’ll pay the city sewers SDCs (system development charges) like anybody else would and hook up into the city system.”

Oster also said it’s rare for a building of that size to be so far from an existing city sewer line, but district officials told them it’s where they felt it worked best for their zoning and attendance boundaries.

NewsChannel 21 reached out to the school district Friday and asked how they will pay for the switch from septic to sewer when the line’s ready. They said they’d use available funds, but would not elaborate on where those funds would come from.

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