Irrigon residents must get behind bond for water system

Residents of Irrigon will have to pay more for water in the future if they want other residents to share in the village's tax base. Irrigon has an infrastructure challenge that ties directly into its development. Coming out of a moratorium on building until a new wastewater treatment plant comes on line, the village's future has had a setback.

If the citizens don't elect to upgrade their water delivery system, it can be as stunting as the treatment issue.

A community that isn't growing is going backwards. Public investment in infrastructure is sure to attract private investment in growth.

Growth will spread the operating costs of government over a larger area and a community such as Irrigon can continue to provide first-class amenities without driving residents out of town.

That kind of challenge is not unique to Irrigon, and certainly most residents, if they think about it, will see the inevitable logic.

One small challenge for the community's leaders is the fact that Irrigon residents have enjoyed lower than market rate prices for their residential water.

In fact, a household using 2,700 cubic feet of water in a month will pay something on the order of 55 percent less in Irrigon than they would in Pendleton.

But in Pendleton, they have a water plant that will serve the community after it doubles in size while in Irrigon leaders admit they might have been better off raising the rates gradually over the years to "pre pay" for the investment they are bound to make.

Floating general obligation bonds in the amount of $2 million is no minor consideration for Irrigon or anywhere else. In November, the voters will make that choice by ballot.

But if the community is to maintain its level of services and quality of life in the future it must grow, and what's obvious in the melon patches is obvious in community development: Nothing grows without water.

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