BEND, OR -- City Councilors continue to work on a plan for converting homes across Bend from septic systems to the city’s sewer service. Project and policy analyst Susanna Julber says it's not immediate, but those who find themselves with a failing system will need to hookup sooner, rather than later, "Anybody that's on a septic system right now that has a sewer nearby, is likely not going to be able to get a repair permit to keep repairing that system, and at some point, is probably going to have to hook up." The city is looking at ways to mitigate the cost, but for some, it could still be very expensive, "We're likely looking at folks having to pay a connection fee, and then, some sort of requirement on timing of hookup, and there may be incentives to hookup, as well," says Julber.
Councilors have determined that many of the possible septic to sewer scenarios they've been pursuing are either impractical or will cost too much. Julber want to stretch beyond southeast Bend, and are considering a draft code to accomplish the project, "The Council is leaning towards more of a citywide project, that would transition all the households in Bend that are still on septic systems - we've got approximately 2,800 - to sewer, and this would be over a long period of time. It might take 80 years." She says but limiting the project to just one region will make it more expensive to homeowners. "Council directed us to look at allocating $2.5 million annually, and just doing more of a citywide program." Julber says the city would construct the project, taking however many years they need, and then residents would be responsible for a portion of the cost of installing lateral piping, "So, we're looking at a connection fee right now of around $10,000 to partially recover those costs." If Council chooses this option, residents would also be responsible for Systems Development Charges, permitting fees, and any other out-of-pocket costs.
Julber says the goal is to come up with a way to give residents time to come up with those out-of-pocket costs. Council hopes to vote on and implement a plan by December 19.