The Stanfield City Council unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday to issue a bond not to exceed $1.85 million that will be used to update the city water system.

The bond money will be used in conjunction with a federal grant.

The vote followed a public information meeting during which the council and a handful of Stanfield residents heard a presentation by Brad Baird of Anderson Perry and Associates, a La Grande-based engineering firm.

“Right now you’re operating with limited storage and no backup,” Baird told the group. “If the power went out, you’d be in immediate water shortage.”

Stanfield’s current water storage cistern holds about 650,000 gallons, barely enough to serve the entire town. In addition, according to Baird, the tank itself needs to be maintained, and that can’t happen until there is a backup system.

“We haven’t done anything to it for 30 years,” said Scott Morris, Stanfield’s public works director.

According to Baird, the new water system will include a new storage tank that will be located south of town near the Pilot Travel Center, adjacent to Interstate 84.

“You’re going to more than double your storage capacity,” Baird said.

The downside to the new system is that water rates in Stanfield will increase by roughly 50 percent.

Currently, Stanfield residents pay $28.25 for 7,500 gallons of water. In order to qualify for a federal community development grant that will fund almost two-thirds of the project, residents will have to pay, on average, $43.52 for 7,500 gallons.

“You just have to get to this rate requirement to get the grant,” Baird said.

The rate jump won’t have to happen all at once, and the final rate won’t have to be in place until the project is finished.

“You basically have two years to do this,” Baird said.

In addition to improved storage and a reduced risk of failure, the new water system will open up potential development sites.

“The possibilities for development between here and I-84 will improve,” said Mayor Thomas McCann. “We actually have more room to grow than Hermiston does.”

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