An Oregon town's $70 million surface water improvement project has been put on hold after a judge issued a preliminary injunction in response to concerns about the uncertainty of whether the project will cause pollution or other environmental issues. The director of an opposition group known as Stop the Drain explained that the city's "decision about the management of water and decisions like this are going to have an effect on the water system for the next 100 years," adding that "they need to be made very carefully."
Another group called Central Oregon LandWatch has lobbied against the project since it was first proposed, asking for an injunction so that a federal court could review their objections. Several city council candidates, about 1,500 citizens and seven former mayors have also voiced their objection to the surface water improvement plan.
Critics of the plan argue that officials violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to properly examine the project's potential effect. The district judge who issued the injunction agreed with this point, noting that the project could cause potential harm to individuals "that use and enjoy the area at issue for its aesthetics, recreation such as hiking, camping, fishing and photography, as well as watershed research, education and observing wildlife." He added that the injunction will give courts and other government bodies more time to properly evaluated the project and address some of the opposition's questions and concerns.
The City Manager said he was surprised by the injunction, which will effectively cease construction that the city planned to begin by the end of 2012. He added that the city will likely wait until after an upcoming mediation session before deciding whether to appeal the injunction.
Source: KTVZ.com, "Bend water project foes celebrate ruling," Barney Lerten and Joe Burns, Oct. 16, 2012