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Bend council OKs water filtration, sewer station

By Kandra Kent
Published On: Feb 19 2014 09:17:25 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 19 2014 10:33:25 PM CST

The city will add new jobs in community development and public works in wake of city growth and developmental demand.

BEND, Ore. -

Looking for a job?

The city of Bend is hiring.

At Wednesday night's city council meeting, councilors voted to modify the city's budget and approve six new positions.

New positions include two new city planners, two building inspectors and two more jobs in Public Works.

Community Development Director Mel Oberst told NewsChannel 21 earlier the job openings are a response to the department's growing workload and an attempt to keep service levels and turnaround times consistent.

"The existing volume of work in 2014 is equivalent to what it was in 2007, but we're processing the same volume of work with half the number of staff," Oberst said.

Oberst said the salaries from the new positions will pay for themselves out of the city's increased volumes for permits and inspections.

He said the city will not be hiring back as many staff as before the recession, because the department has streamlined jobs with new technology. The city now has about 472 full-time equivalent employees, after the new hires.

You can contact the city's Human Resources Department for more information on the new jobs.

The council also voted to approve two high-priority water and sewer projects, though the vote was 6-1, with Mayor Jim Clinton opposed, on the nearly $24 million membrane water filter system for the city's surface water.

Clinton had supported a cheaper ultraviolet treatment option, but the city has opted for one it believes will be able to filter out sediment, should a major wildfire break out in the Bridge Creek watershed.

Here's a city news release issue Wednesday night on the infrastructure projects' approval::

First, the council voted to approve a contract with M.A. Mortenson Construction to build the new membrane system that will filter Bend’s drinking water. The contract has a “guaranteed maximum price” of just under $24 million that cannot be exceeded without council approval.

The drinking water filter plant meets a federal standard that protects public health from infection caused by Cryptosporidium, a potentially fatal parasite. This is the same pathogen that sickened two dozen residents in Baker City last year.

The membrane technology will also make it possible to operate the water filtration plant even in if there is a fire in Bend’s forested watershed or in case of heavy rainfall, due to high levels of silt in the water. Other treatment methods would require shutdown under those conditions.

Last Friday, a federal judge refused to further delay construction of a ten-mile long drinking water pipeline that will replace two existing pipelines that date from the 1920s and 1950s.

The replacement pipeline will connect the new membrane filtration facility to Bend’s main Bridge Creek water source. Construction is expected to begin immediately to take advantage of cost savings made possible by coordinating installation of the pipeline with Skyliners Road reconstruction being planned by Deschutes County.

A second action by councilors Wednesday night approved a $2.2 million contract with Murray, Smith and Associates for final design and construction support for the Colorado Lift Station and associated piping.

The lift station will house large pumps that convey untreated wastewater from the city's Westside through pressurized and gravity pipelines to Bend’s wastewater treatment plant near the airport. The facility addresses some of Bend’s most urgent sewer capacity issues for the Westside and downtown core area.

The lift station site is close to Deschutes Brewery, one of Bend’s major sewer customers that will be served. The new OSU-Cascades four-year campus is also in the area to be served.

In 2013, a 17-member citizen advisory group identified this facility as the top priority for sewer system upgrades. The city council accepted the citizen group’s recommendation and ordered preliminary design work to begin immediately. Lift station construction is anticipated to be completed in 2015.

The Sewer Infrastructure Advisory Group’s final recommendations for other sewer system improvements will be presented to the Bend City Council in late 2014.

For more information on the water pipeline project, visit www.bendoregon.gov/bridgecreekpipe.  To learn more about prioritizing city sewer projects, visit bendoregon.gov/SIAG.

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