BEND, OR -- It was highly anticipated news for city officials, when they heard Friday a judge would allow Bend's waterline replacement project to move forward. Central Oreogn Land Watch had filed a lawsuit to staop the project in November 2013. But now, managers could face difficulties restarting work, including a potentially smaller budget. Justin Finestone with the City of bend says the legal battle brought additional costs, and now additional seasonal delays. "Obviously, we'll need to dig to bury a pipeline, so if there's snow that does hamper those efforts. So, we need to figure out what areas we'll be able to work in, and what areas we can't. We'll also need to do some work in the creek, and that can't be done until water levels are low. So, obviously we won't be able to get to that until next fall."
Project leaders will come together this week to form a new plan for how to move forward with construction, which was originally slated to cost $24 million. Finestone tells KBND News, "We know that costs have gone up a bit. Obviously, the legal battle and delaying the project, there are costs involved in that."
Central Oregon Landwatch, the group who filed the original 2013 lawsuit, isn't sure if it will appeal the judge's decision. Executive Director Paul Dewey tells KBND, they still have some time, "Well, we're disappointed and we haven't made any decision. We're looking closely at the [judge's] decision and we have 60 days to appeal." Judge Anne Aiken ruled the National Forest Service did a good job analyzing the environmental impact of the water project. Dewey says, "We're examining all the relevant evidence. Our attorney is out of state and we haven't met with him. But, these are all considerations we'll be looking at and deciding whether [the judge] looked at all the evidence."
If Central Oregon Landwatch chooses to appeal, the case would go to the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court. Dewey expects they will make a decision by early January.