News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Public works department delivers on services

Most of the services enjoyed by the residents of Sisters fall under the responsibility of the City’s Public Works Department, making it one of the busiest, most active departments in the City. The work is handled by a total of eight full-time employees and two contract workers (see related story).

Water System

Sisters’ water system dates back to the 1930s, when water came from Whychus and Pole creeks. In 1975 they began drawing on well water. Supply is currently provided by three wells with a 1.6 million-gallon reservoir for storage of the well water. Well No. 4 is currently under construction. Groundwater is treated for public safety, currently by gaseous chlorine and onsite chlorine generators. A new two-million-gallon reservoir will be constructed in the near future with a new 20-inch line running between town and the reservoir. According to Public Works Director Paul Bertagna, “Sisters has the best damn water!” (He says he would like that on his tombstone).


The City’s wastewater (sewer) system is relatively new, with construction occurring in 2000-2002. Piping for the gravity collection system varies from six-inch to 24-inch diameter, with four wastewater pump stations around the city. The wastewater treatment plant is a three-cell lagoon system with a winter holding lagoon discharging to a dike and forest irrigation re-use system.

In 2007, the City of Sisters purchased 230 acres of the Lazy Z ranch on the west side of Highway 20 for future effluent reuse as part of planning for the future wastewater needs of Sisters. The facility operates under a permit issued from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. A biosolids-removal project is scheduled to begin in February (see related story).


The Public Works Department maintains 53 miles of roadway and 4.5 miles of paths within the city limits, providing asphalt-maintenance services in the summer and snow-removal services in the winter. This is in addition to street tree and landscape maintenance in public rights-of-way.


Public Works maintains seven parks (including landscape maintenance and facility cleaning) and administers the City’s public events program, which usually occurs in the parks. These parks include: Barclay Park; Cliff Clemens Park; Creekside Campground; Creekside Park; Fir Street Park; Veterans Park; and Village Green Park.

Recycle Center

The City’s Recycle Center will accept, free of charge, for recycling: cardboard; glass; commingled materials; and used motor oil. There are regular garbage containers for items that cannot be recycled. The City owns the Recycling Center and maintains it in partnership with Republic Services. It is used about 50/50 by city and county residents.

Public Works Shop, Lab, and Tree Nursery

The shop serves as the Public Works headquarters on South Locust Street, with offices and 10 bays for welding, vehicle and equipment storage, and vehicle maintenance.

Currently, only half of the building is being used so there is room to grow.

The building is metal with 14-inch-thick concrete walls making it fire-resistant.

It is built stoutly enough that it could take solar panels on the roof.

Monitoring of the wastewater treatment plant occurs there.

There are some items of historical significance also stored there, such as the old Kawasaki patrol motorcycle used by the once-active Sisters Police Department and signs from around town, including old population signs and the short-lived back-in parking signs.

Nearby there is a five-year-old tree nursery in which the City grows their own nursery stock to be planted around the City in parks and public rights-of-way. They use a pot-in-pot system for growing the bare root stock which is watered with effluent from the treatment plant. By the time the trees are planted out they are acclimated to the Central Oregon weather.


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