BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners have said "no" right now to allowing the Central Oregon Irrigation District to pipe the Pilot Butte canal in northeast Bend, without public input. But neighbors are prepared to continue the fight, if needed.
Homeowner Tom Hignell has lived along the canal for 20 years. He tells KBND News that they've been fighting COID for years as the company has tried to pipe the canal to help raise more revenue through thehydroelectric plant downstream.
"COID built Juniper Ridge hydroelectric plant," Hignell says. "They used $27 million of taxpayer money. And their GM Criag Horrell has said they're already profitable. And only their customers benefit. How much money until they're satisified? Where's the greater good for the community here?"
Hignell does approve of the commissioners decision not to approve the COID piping without a lengthy public process. But he says he's not letting his guard down.
"I think we do feel confident at this point." Hignell says. "The momentum seems to be going along with the public and neighbors. We're pleased with the results, but we're ready whatever is necessary to protect our property and homes and the canal."
COID is still planning its next course of action. One of the future goals will be piping more of the leaky canals in order to conserve water.