The city of Bend is required to treat the surface water it uses to meet an EPA requirement called LT2. After 8 years of analysis, resolutions and backtracking a citizen committee was established to take one final look at the treatment options from the perspective of risk mitigation and adhering to the values of the community.

The primary risk is the probability and impact of a wildfire in the watershed.
The community values relate to the cost of the solution while ensuring safe and high quality water (Bend is a haven for craft breweries so water is very important).

There were two options:

  1. Membrane filtration significantly more costly and more robust in the event of a fire
  2. Ultraviolet disinfectant which would likely be inoperable after a significant fire (Bend has dual water sources: groundwater and surface water so there would still be water for the city)

The first meeting was held on 7/26/13. At the time we didn’t understand that there was a hard and fast deadline of 10/2/13, though we did know that the committee should finalize the recommendation in the fall.

I must admit that in early August I was unsure how we could get a recommendation to the city council. And maybe more importantly have a group of committee members that were not at each others’ throats.

And while the committee members split on which option to choose they develop a recommendation that described the different ways to think about the decision. The final recommendations document is here. In addition there was a sense of collegiality among the committee members even though they disagreed on the solution choice.  One committee member said at the end of the last meeting that she was ready to join another committee, while a second person stated his enthusiasm for what the committee had done.

I wish I could say we had a clearly defined path. But with messy decisions it only looks like a path when you look back over what transpired. So using the clarity of hindsight I can now define the path we took. I will describe the path using the 5 meetings as milestones. In many of the meetings a particular Core Principle from the book The Moment of Oh! was a primary driver.

The path we took:

  1. 7/26/13 – Orientation
  2. 8/14/13  – Getting Started
  3. 8/27/13 – Divergence (what a mess)
  4. 9/10/13 – Convergence and Shared Facts
  5. 10/1/13 – Final recommendation and Understanding Each Other

It is important to note that more activity was done outside of the meetings, and it is the non-meeting activity that was essential to achieving the committee’s goals.

Over the next few weeks, I will write a blog post for each of these milestones/meetings describing the meeting and the preparatory activities.