(Updated: adding video, comments from resident and Des. Co. commissioner)
Group of Tumalo residents asking Deschutes County to OK sewer system
TUMALO, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Situated between the Deschutes River and sparkling mountain views, Tumalo has become a popular spot for visitors to stop, shop and grab a bite along Highway 20, while many residents enjoy the rural feel of the community.
While the small town has seen lots of growth over the past few years, the ground beneath it tells a different, more worrisome story.
Almost all of Tumalo relies on septic tanks, most of which were built in the 1970s or earlier.
Jim Crouch, owner of Heritage Brand, says the septic systems are keeping the town from growing.
"Without a sewer system or a community sewer system for Tumalo, it just can't really grow," Crouch told NewsChannel 21 on Tuesday. "It's very stifled as of right now."
Septic systems require annual maintenance, limit the amount of land you can build on due to drain fields, and threaten nearby waterways.
Crouch and a few other Tumalo business owners have proposed a new community sewer system be built in the area.
He says one of the reasons he loves Tumalo is because it has a small-town feel, and most of the businesses are within walking distance from one another.
"We don't want to have commercial buildings that are 50 or 150 feet apart, just so we can fit septic systems between them," Crouch said. "That doesn't look like a downtown area. That looks like a ghost town."
So far, the group has received support from Deschutes County commissioners.
Commissioner Tony DeBone told NewsChannel 21 he's looking forward to supporting the community in this endeavor.
"If this is the will of the community, let's go forward and do it, because it is a choice of the people and the property owners that live there," DeBone said.
Right now, the county is working on a feasibility plan to analyze all potential angles of the project, along with the cost.
Commissioner DeBone says the county could have an estimate by the end of the month.