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The McKenzie Action Team, a group of community volunteers, hosted an open session for residents to gather and discuss options for dealing with septic tank issues in Blue River February 11th, 2016 at 5pm at the AMJ community room (track).

There has been a long festering problem with aging and failing septic tanks. In addition, the small lots in Blue River do not meet modern standards for building due to septic requirements.

As a result, many of the business properties in Blue River cannot reopen or expand. Building lots stay vacant and a home owner often can’t even add a bedroom to their own home for their growing family.

This has left the town of Blue River actually shrinking. Businesses have closed and the property owners have limited options to reuse their property. We have less homes in Blue River than we did years ago.

The Blue River CDC has been looking at this issue for a number of years. The group asked EWEB to help fund the initial engineering report that discussed broad options, some estimated costs and funding sources prepared by Dyer Partnership (and engineering and planning firm). [The report was available for viewing at the meeting.]

Meeting Agenda and Outcomes:
Discuss options, feasibility of options and feedback from Hatfield Fellow and RCAC consultant regarding those options.

While no decisions are being made, the group is gathering information to help the residents determine if this is a viable solution.

A few things emerged as common concerns:

1. Where ever it is located, its important that we do not see or smell it. So a closed, underground system was essential.

2. Cost concerns would dictate that we work really hard to get as much of the system paid for by outside funding sources — preferably grants.

3. People need to learn more about these options and the benefits of being connected to such a system. (The preference is to provide services where they are needed most and to create an opt in system.)

4. More community feedback/involvement is desired. The homes and businesses in the downtown core of Blue River will benefit the most from this system.

Representatives from Lane Electric were at the meeting offering to help with whatever the community decides to do. EWEB has also suggested that if we chose to get a community system, they would look to help connect low income homes with grants and/or other incentives.

Goals of the Community Group:
Help Blue River revitalize –
• New businesses will move in to empty buildings/vacant lots — bringing jobs and services to all river residents
• Allow homes to more easily be built on the empty lots — bringing more students for our schools.
• Ensure that options exist for homeowners with failing septic systems – helping to preserve our river.

The volunteer group will be hosting future community sessions to discuss this issue and options.