BEND, OR -- Ranchers, farmers, and homeowners packed a Deschutes County conference room Wednesday as the County heard testimony from many civic leaders in favor of piping a stretch of the Pilot Butte Canal.
The Central Oregon Irrigation District proposes to replace nearly 4,500 feet of the open water irrigation canal with a closed pipe. The COID says that this will conserve a finite water supply and restore water levels in overused rivers.
Those living along the canal say that enclosing the waterway would cause adjacent property values to plummet. They say approval would set a dangerous precedent for enclosing other stretches of canal in the county.
At Wednesday’s hearing, an official testified that housing values would likely remain unchanged.
“What you have in front of you is a chart showing the value from before the time that each of these homes was piped, to after the time until we get to the present. What we found is, there is no significant difference in home values attributable to actual piping.”
Bend City Councilor Mark Capell is credited with getting the remaining six council members to unanimously encourage the County to adopt the changes.
“If we truly want to conserve water for improving the stream flows, and for future opportunities for growth and industry to have water available without piping, there really isn’t a good solution to the problem,” Capell said.
The County will accept written testimony until July 16th. A decision is expected by the end of July.