The solution for the growing silt buildup problem in Bend’s Mirror Pond could be more complicated than just dredging the pond and hauling away the sediment, environmental experts told the Bend City Council on Monday.
In a work session Monday evening, Upper Deschutes Watershed Council Executive Director Ryan Houston said it will likely take another two years to come up with a specific plan for fixing the pond.
Mirror Pond could turn into mud flats and wetlands within a decade if left untouched, Houston said.
But when it comes time to move forward with the actual project — which is estimated to cost between $2 million and $5 million — Houston said the most cost-effective and lasting solution might be dredging only certain areas of the pond and transferring some sediment to other locations to help develop wildlife habitat areas.
In other words, more emphasis could be placed on high-tech engineering for certain areas to keep them looking like the iconic pond featured in Bend’s official logo, while other areas might start to look a bit different.
“It will be interesting asking, ‘What are the most critical viewpoints?’” Houston said. “We could ask ourselves what are the top two or three or five view corridors and how could we maintain those as they are. Part of the community process is defining what are those iconic views, and don’t mess with them, and what are some of the other areas where we could be more creative.”
More planning to do
But there’s still a long road ahead before any final decisions are made about the future of Mirror Pond, which was created a century ago when a small dam was built north of the Newport Avenue Bridge.
In the meeting Monday, the City Council expressed support for the Watershed Council’s recommendation that the city should help coordinate the formation of an independent Mirror Pond management board, which would include representatives from the City Council, Bend Park & Recreation District, local irrigation districts and others.
That group would spearhead the initial planning process, which is expected to last about two years and cost $500,000. By the end of that time, the group will be asked to narrow the range of options for dredging the pond, consider environmental regulations, gather community input and begin the fundraising for the project, which will cost another $1.5 million to $4.5 million.
It’s not yet clear how much money the city or other stakeholder groups like the Bend Park & Recreation District — the single largest landowner around the pond — will contribute to the project.
When Mirror Pond was last dredged, in 1984, it cost $312,000 and was funded with money from the federal government and local sources.
This time around, the process is more complicated — and the price tag much larger — because environmental projects are more strictly regulated, said John Runyon, a senior manager and ecologist with ICF Jones & Stokes, a Portland firm that assisted the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council with its study.
“We need to have regulatory approval from both state and federal agencies to move forward, and that’s really where the playing field has shifted since 1984,” Runyon said. “Any activity comes under immense scrutiny from both the stakeholder groups and regulatory agencies.”
Source: The Bulletin ©2009