Focus on water conservation and increasing workforce housing inventory
Each year, the current cohort of Leadership Bend, a program of the Bend Chamber, works on a class capstone project as a means of providing a meaningful impact to the community. This year, the class of 2022 took on two impact projects.
Working in partnership with the City of Bend, one impact team undertook a campaign to increase participation in the City’s WaterSmart program by commercial water users. WaterSmart is an online tool that helps water users save water by tracking usage, alerting them to possible leaks, and providing water-saving tips and resources. Bend Park and Recreation District experienced this firsthand when WaterSmart helped it detect a significant leak under its primary community pool.
According to JoAnna Edwards, the District’s Information Specialist, “WaterSmart is used throughout our system of 80 meters and enables us to run tests daily and analyze water meters in real-time. We were notified by the system to enable us to repair the pool leak quickly and without significant loss, which is crucial for our service to the community.”
The impact project targeted the City’s 2,419 commercial users because although they account for only 10% of water users in total, they consume over 27% of the City’s water. They are also far less likely to be enrolled with WaterSmart than residential users. Providing businesses with the data available through WaterSmart is the first step toward effective conservation since it allows companies to make informed decisions about their water consumption.
The Leadership Bend campaign reached out to commercial water users to promote WaterSmart through email, radio ads, and social media between January and April 2022. During this time, the campaign’s recruitment rate was 8.29%, and 101 new commercial accounts were activated. With commercial water users consuming an average of 546,920 gallons per day in Bend, the team’s efforts brought 57,427 gallons, or 10.50% of this total, into the WaterSmart program. That’s 101 local businesses with better information about their water consumption—helping them shut down leaks when they start, employ effective conservation measures, and lower operating costs, all while benefiting the community’s water supply.
The other impact team developed a “How-To Guide for Building an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit).” Now that Oregon State Legislature’s House Bill 2001 has passed, homeowners have more options to add housing to their lots. This can provide homeowners with income to offset their mortgage and add more workforce housing to the community.
The guide provides detailed information on four key areas—financing and costs, permitting and zoning, design and construction, and property management—and is now live on the Bend Chamber website at bendchamber.org/adu. Prior to the creation of the guide, potential builders were left to their own devices to search for answers from disparate locations.
“The City is grateful to the Leadership Bend team for putting this valuable tool together for the citizens of Bend. ADUs certainly will provide more housing inventory for our workforce and they are something that can start being built now,” shared Eric King, City Manager at the City of Bend.
A postcard mailer will be sent to approximately 4,000 Bend residents to help promote the concept of ADUs and share the news of the guide. The recipients of the mailer were determined to be good candidates for an ADU based on their current lot size and housing type.
The mission of the Bend Chamber is to create an environment where businesses, their employees and our community excel together through collaboration, advocacy, resources and leadership to meet Bend’s business challenges.
Leadership Bend is a community leadership development program designed to identify, educate, train and connect willing and committed citizens to leadership roles in our community. There now are nearly 600 Leadership Bend alumni who now serve as our community “trustees” through board service, elected office, and more. Leadership Bend is supported by Taylor Northwest, St. Charles Health System, and like-minded businesses who believe that a healthy community comes from investment in leadership.