Deschutes river in central Oregon

Bend High Students investigate local water quality and income level correlations

A group of students in Bend Senior High’s Journal Club worked together to investigate the quality of water in areas of Bend, Oregon with differing income levels. The aim of the Journal Club is to develop research and scientific literacy skills in youth. 

“The club decided to work on a project dealing with domestic water quality because it is oriented around our local Bend community,” said junior Chase Hayden, a student who contributed to the project.

According to Hayden, Journal Club found that “through EDTA titration, which tests for magnesium, barium, and zinc in water, our conclusion determined that among a city-wide average, there were no significant findings; this means Bend’s water quality is safe in all areas.” 

Central Oregon Foundation, an organization dedicated to the improvement of Oregonian’s lives, published a report concerning the East and West divides within Bend, Oregon. They said that despite a lot of growth, more than 14,000 households (37%) do not make enough money to cover basic needs like housing, transportation, food and child care. 

This was exacerbated by the “cascading crises in Oregon in 2020 have compounded existing inequities, resulting in disproportionate impacts on Black, Indigenous, people of color, low-income Oregonians and rural communities… grappling with the need for systems change: education, arts and culture, housing, business infrastructure, health care and more.”

How did Bend, Oregon water providers, such as the City of Bend and Avion Water System, prevent these disparities from entering the water system?

According to Julie Price, Utility Education and Campaign Coordinator for the City of Bend, the creation of plans concerning water infrastructure is reviewed and contributed to by public advisory groups. Price says these groups “consist of area leaders, businesses and individuals who want to be involved in the planning and development of key components surrounding our water services.”

Jason Wick with Avion Water further explains that “all the water for [Avion’s] customers comes from three reservoirs and those reservoirs are all connected together.” Wick says that “the way all our systems are designed to have redundancies so everything is connected to everything.” This way, there is no difference in the water delivered to anyone.

For both these providers, the multiple water sources and rigorous testing as mandated by the State of Oregon ensures that there are no distinctions between the quality of water distributed throughout the City. 

How can Central Oregon learn from themselves in how they handle the areas of inequality listed by the Oregon Community Foundation, such as housing, education and health care?

There is more to learn from the questions that Journal Club students asked in the first place. Hayden says that this kind of investigation is important because “any relationships found will be able to determine equality differences within our local system and allow for more research and possible action to be taken to create an equal society for all citizens of Bend.” 

This acts as a lesson for those who care about their community. Take any opportunity you can to ensure that your community lives up to what you believe it should be.


  • Grace Kelley

    Grace Kelley is one of the seven wonders of the world–Machu Picchu? Forget it–you’re more likely to experience the amazement of Man staring into her soulful eyes than hiking up a random mountain. Grace is unlike anyone you’ve ever met before: the Mary of our generation. Need a god to believe in? Let it be Grace Kelley.

    View all posts