City Council session on septic-to-sewer

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The Bend City Council is weighing options for transitioning one of Bend’s unsewered neighborhoods from septic systems to sewer by building sewer lines in the neighborhoods’ streets. This process could influence how other unsewered areas across the City are addressed in the future.

The public is invited to a City Council “listening session” from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 15, in Council Chambers at City Hall, 710 NW Wall Street. Parking at City Hall may be limited due to anticipated attendance. Comments can also be submitted to Councilors in writing at council@bendoregon.gov.

The SE Bend Septic to Sewer Advisory Committee recently gave the Council its recommendations for financing and implementing public sewer. The Council is expected to take action on a septic-to-sewer proposal this fall. Property owners in unsewered areas and citywide sewer utility ratepayers may all be affected.

Bend has some 2,800 households that still have septic systems for wastewater disposal. The largest concentration of these unsewered areas is in southeast Bend. With about 600 homes, the initial project area is south of Reed Market Road, west of the irrigation canal and east of 15th Street.

In 2017, Bend City Council appointed an 11-member citizen advisory committee, called the SE Bend Septic to Sewer Advisory Committee, to recommend financing and implementation strategies to transition neighborhoods onto sewer. The committee has been meeting monthly for about a year.

One of the advisory committee’s primary recommendations is for the City to move ahead to pursue timely septic-to-sewer conversions in Bend’s unsewered neighborhoods. The Committee also recommends that additional costs for sewering these areas should be shared by citywide sewer ratepayers and area property owners. Citywide ratepayers could see an increase in their monthly sewer bills. The committee suggests costs for homeowners in the project area be capped at $25,000 (or $250 per month) with the ability to pay over time. The committee also recommends that council consider a “financial safety net” program for qualifying homeowners, and that a monthly fee is attached to all sewer ratepayer bills to finance a citywide transition program.

The mechanism for financing the project and the sharing of costs will be decided by the City Council and input from the public is welcome.

Learn more at www.bendoregon.gov/septictosewer and follow City Council agendas at www.bendoregon.gov/councilagenda.