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Two Bend water appeals sink, one floats on

By Joe Burns
Published On: Aug 27 2012 07:56:16 PM CDT

A ruling last week in the fight over the city of Bend's controversial surface water project and it’s a split decision, so the battle is far from over.

BEND, Ore. -

The $69 million Bend Surface Water Improvement Project calls for miles of pipe replacement, a water treatment facility and a hydroelectric plant. But Central Oregon Landwatch has been trying to stop the project since the beginning.

The group filed three appeals with the state Land Use Appeals Board, and two were just dismissed.

Land-use attorney Paul Dewey said Landwatch filed three appeals, because it was not clear which city decision was the final one.

The first focused on a resolution passed by the city council, the second a contract signed by the city and the third a new public facilities plan.

The appeal on the plan is the one going forward.

Dewey says the board's dismissal of two appeals was no surprise -- and the appeals board letting the third proceed was good news for project foes.

Dewey says that means the group will get their day in court to make their case (as will the city).

"We just needed one venue within which to make our arguments, and this is as good as any," Dewey said. "It's such a bad idea, and it's a project that's going to impact Tumalo Creek for the next 75 to 100 years."

"It's going to affect ratepayers for decades. We have so many other huge projects -- the sewer system, the transportation system. The ratepayers and taxpayers are going to be hammered in the coming years, and there's no need for a $70 million project," he added.

Both sides will be making their case to the appeals board in filings next month. Dewey expects a final decision by November or December.

Meanwhile, the city says its moving forward with the project.

Bend City Attorney Mary Winters tell NewsChannel 21 the city moved to dismiss the two appeals that the board rejected, but not the third, as it was a planning document.

On Sunday, Landwatch filed another appeal, this one with the U.S. Forest Service over its decision to allow the city to install the $10 million pipeline.

As the appeals proceed, the controversial water project is likely to be key in this fall's crowded Bend City Council races, for which Tuesday is the filing deadline.

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