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Bend questions ability to meet demands

BEND — As wells dry up and the city population grows, Bend officials are wondering if they will be able to meet growing water demands.

The city is in the process of trying to take over about 3.5 square miles of rural county land by expanding its urban growth boundary, The Bulletin reported Friday. About 13,000 new housing units are expected with about 30,000 people added to the city between 2014 and 2028.

"When we're looking at water supply, because it takes a long time to get supply, we are looking out 30, 40, 50 years, and even beyond," said Tom Hickmann, who leads the city's Engineering and Infrastructure Planning department. "It's not something we're looking at just five years down the road."

Bend officials say despite the population boom, Bend should be well prepared for meeting future water demand because city conservation programs have been largely successful.

"We're very fortunate that we're in really good shape in terms of what our system future investment needs are," Hickmann said.

Bend Water Resources Manager Patrick Griffiths said Bend residents should continue finding ways to conserve water.

Currently water conservation efforts include work with large landowners, parks and schools to promote water efficient landscaping.

Housing and business developments in the future will be able to use use automated water meters to gauge hourly water use to identify leaks, Griffith said. The city has also discussed proposals to require homes to be more water efficient.