Sunday, March 3, 2013

Leave Mirror Pond as is

In all the talk about Bend's iconic image of Mirror Pond, on whether to dredge it or remove the dam that forms the pond, the best answer may be to leave it all alone.

Yes, the silt in the river is building up. This leads to some mudflats in the middle of the Deschutes River in the heart of Bend.

If dredging is the ultimate direction the park district takes with Mirror Pond, it will cost a few million dollars and it will have to be done every 15 years or so. The last time the pond was dredged was about 30 years ago and it's needed some attention for about 15 years.

If the dam is removed, the pond will shrink to the size of the Deschutes River that exists in the rest of Bend and the city's logo will no longer be true to what's actually there.

But, and this is a big but, the cost of doing either of the two main options requires massive amounts of money that neither the park district nor the city has.

Meanwhile, Pacific Power, which built the dam about a century ago and has sold enough power for 500 homes each year through the small hydro facility it constructed there, is licking its chops.

Why? Because it wants taxpayers to foot the bill for the costly removal of the dam or for repeated dredging of the river.

Environmental rules have changed dramatically over the past 100 years and Pacific Power is well aware that it has an albatross around its neck in the Mirror Pond dam and hydro facility.

If the city or the park district elects to do nothing with the pond, the federal government may force Pacific Power to deal with the problem.

Wouldn't that be sweet.

Get the corporation that has profited for decades from the hydro facility in downtown Bend pay for the cost of either removing it or dredging the river for the next 100 years.

Let's be smart about this. Corporations, not government, have the big money these days. Make the corporation pay for the problem it created at Mirror Pond.

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