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Packed crowd voices criticism, concerns as Deschutes County panel reviews 12 possible landfill sites

(Update: Big crowd at Tuesday meeting of advisory panel))

That water is our future, it is our lifeblood.

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Three proposed Deschutes County landfill sites in the Millican Valley got early opposition from some members of the public, ahead of Tuesday's meeting by the county's Solid Waste Advisory Committee, which drew a packed crowd.

The pushback comes in the early stages of a review process of 13 possible locations, voicing concerns and seeking more specifics about where the landfill will go, the selection criteria and how surrounding areas, wildlife and water supplies could be affected, as well as hikers and the general public.

Frankie Watson of Bend said she believes the historic Millican Valley about 25 miles east of Bend is "endangered" by the possible landfill, with a "high risk" of contaminating the groundwater aquifer.

"The ground is not good for a landfill, it's full of sand, and Mount Mazama ash and lava rock." Watson said Monday. The water is so important. We cannot take the chance of it being contaminated by a landfill. That water is our future, it is our lifeblood."

Matthew Hyman, who teaches music lessons at Pickin' Parlor, said, "The Millican Valley is sitting right on top of very fresh water, a natural aquifer. And it's going to be of great importance to protect the water resources. There's such a demand for water, for the city and for the recreation around here."

The Solid Waste Advisory Committee began reviewing 13 potential sites (later trimmed by one) last month, starting the process to replace Knott Landfill in southeast Bend when it reaches capacity, estimated in about seven years.

Blake Mayfield was at Tuesday morning's meeting to hear the committee's discussion and talk with residents who showed up to share their concerns about various potential sites. His report is coming up on NewsChannel 21 at Five.

Deschutes County first began looking for a new landfill site to replace Knott decades ago, also discussing at that time whether instead to ship the trash to a regional landfill in the Columbia Gorge. That debate got predictably political, until the county determined it could gain more years of life at Knott Landfill instead.

"You need to contact the Deschutes County Solid Waste Department, give them your opinion. Send them an email, send a letter, call them up!" Watson said. "We need to get our opinions out there. W, we all have a voice, lets use it. Let's roar on this one! Let's save the water, let's save Central Oregon!"

County Solid Waste Director Chad Centola said site-specific research is now being conducted, and the list is likely to be narrowed to 3-5 sites this spring, for more extensive evaluation and analysis over the following year.

An April 6 open house is planned for review of the finalist sites. But a recommendation by SWAC to county commissioners isn't likely until the spring of 2024, Centola said, leading to an extensive and formal public process.

Article Topic Follows: Deschutes County

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Blake Mayfield

Blake Mayfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.


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