City of Bend plans to expand Outback water treatment facility, buy 51 acres of USFS land
(Update: Adding video, comments from city Principal Engineer Brittany Barker)
Expansion project aims to keep system running during difficult conditions such as storms, wildfires.
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The city of Bend is interested in buying 51 acres of the Deschutes National Forest to expand its Outback water treatment facility, but it still has many hurdles to clear before the project proceeds. If the sale is approved, it could be three to five years before the expansion would begin.
"The Townsite Act application process is a fairly long process, and it’s not often used, so we’re looking at potentially a two- to three-year-long process.” city Engineering and Infrastructure Planning Department Principal Engineer Brittany Barker said Wednesday.
As for why the city is pursing this project, Barker said: “It allows us to more efficiently filter our water."
The move to expand the current 15-acre Outback site to adjacent Forest Service land comes as the facility approaches its development capacity.
It's part of the city's 2021 Integrated Water System Master Plan, adopted in 2021, that seeks to serve the community's expansion over the next 20 years and more.
“We have reservoirs and wells that are also there," Barker said. "It’s at the perfect elevation that we have a lot of gravity-fed lines, which require less energy to get the water across town.”
After completing an Integrated Water System Master Plan in 2021, Barker said the city identified key needs for the water system to grow as our community expands.
Pre-treatment is one example.
"Pre-treatment is something where we have a fire, for instance, or a big storm event," Barker said. "A lot of sediment comes into our water system, and that gets sucked into the membranes of our water filtration facility and really plugs things up. So we were looking to do pre-sedimentation before that water makes its way into our filtration facility.”
As it is now, during storms or wildfires, the water plant is often shut down, because too much sediment can come through. Groundwater wells are used instead.
With the planned expansion, the plant could operate through such rough environmental conditions.
The expansion plan includes a pre-sedimentation pond and a building to remove material from the water.
Over time, Barker said, you can expect to see more reservoirs and wells, predominantly in the expansion area.
Right now, the system filters up to 11.8 million gallons of water per day.
“We are not intending on taking any additional water any more than what we currently use to operate our system," Barker said.
As part of the expansion approval process, the city would also have to do an environmental study.
Here is a city tour of its water system, and a city fact sheet on the expansion plans: