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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 21, 2006 7:50 AM. The previous post in this blog was The night they shot Squeaky. The next post in this blog is Meet the new boss. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Bluff called

I'm about a week late in getting to an interesting article in the O about the current negotiations between the City of Portland and the Tualatin Valley Water District over a new contract for the purchase and sale of water from the city's Bull Run reservoir. The H2O boys from the 'burbs keep saying they'll build a filtration plant and drink out of the Willamette River rather than pay a high price for Bull Run water. But it seems there's a slight problem with that scenario. As the O explained:

First, a majority of district voters would rather stick with Portland's Bull Run water. Nearly 70 percent said last year in a scientific poll paid for by the district that they want to continue using Portland water. Only 13 percent preferred a switch to the Willamette.

Second, the board is required to win voter approval before using the Willamette as a water source.

Anyone who would drink the Willamette (except maybe upriver from Eugene) is nuts. Everything from human waste to radioactive sludge is in there. I'm sure the engineering geniuses will tell you that they can filter out enough of the bad stuff to make it safe, but "safe" is just an opinion, and you are the experiment.

Commissioner "Fireman Randy" Leonard is in charge of Bull Run water these days, and it looks to me as though he's made exactly the right call in not running scared when the TV folks start talking about drinking the Willamette. A few years back, the suburban interests had Leonard's boy-wonder predecessor, Erik Sten, so freaked out at the prospect of their shunning Portland water that he was offering to turn the whole Bull Run system over to a regional board that would have been dominated by suburban interests.

Sten doesn't know how to call a bluff. That's how we got SoWhat and the Kohler-Coaster. Leonard's a much better poker player, and because of it, a decent deal for the city may be in the offing.

Comments (9)

It's a good move by Leonard, but you have to wonder what the TV folks were thinking. It's one thing to tell Portland City Hall that you're going to drink from the Willamette, but it's another thing entirely to tell that to the people who are going to be doing the drinking.

Portland should never relinquish the watershed to a regional group. Why? Because while Portland seems more willing to address growth subsequent infrustructure demands that will continue to take its toll on our water supply. Sometimes you wonder if the suburban planners just assume that service will always be there for them, perhaps taking it for granted. Well, the water's got to come from somewhere, right? You keep adding one development after another, it's gonna get hairy.

Ever bought 'drinking water' at the store? Yeah, that could be treated waste water in there. While the Willamette is pretty nasty underneath, filtration technology can do some amazing things these days. At some point, this option will have to be on the table as population grows. Perhaps only to supplement the current system like wells.

While Willamette water may be fine for watering your yard or washing your car - volatile organic compounds that are not removed by the filtration process make it unfit for human consumption. It would be in the best interests of the region to find a way to deliver river water for "outside" use, and save Bull Run water for drinking, cooking, cleaning & bathing. We are fortuate that former City leaders had the foresight to construct the Bull Run water system 100 years ago - at enormous expense - so that the City could stop using a polluted driking water source - the Willamette. It is more than a little ironic that 100 years later we (the region) are returning to the Willamette for drinking water.

Actually I think Leonard backed down.
The plant is up and running in Wilsonville with water coming out of the faucet that has been proven to be darn good.
Sherwood voted to switch to the Willamette and Leonard & the CoP while attempting to get 20 year contracts from current customers was facing the possibility they might walk as well.
Leonard, perhaps wisely, backed off the 20 year contracts and is now bending to solidify a continued partnership with TV and various cities.

If he can't make it happen, CoP customers will soon see their water rates match their sewer rates.

Things are still dicey.

The plant is up and running in Wilsonville with water coming out of the faucet that has been proven to be darn good.

That's Wilsonville. This is TV. It will "prove to be darn good" in 50 years, when the current guinea pigs' latency period for various illnesses is over.

>That's Wilsonville. This is TV.>That's Wilsonville. This is TV.

TVWD was or is considering getting water from the Wilsonville plant. That's their competing alternative. The existing plant in Wilsonville.

You may be right about the 50 years but it tests pure now. The technology works.

I was primarily trying to correct what I read as some incaccuracies about current options and the ongoing negotiations.

All told it's too bad the Bull Run infrastructure
has not been maintained and expanded to provide the region with the preferable source.

But as with so many other areas our elected officials are perpetually neglecting basic services while being distracted by lower priority higher post card value endevours.

All told it's too bad the Bull Run infrastructure has not been maintained and expanded to provide the region with the preferable source.

The 'burbs don't want to pay for that, even though they would benefit from it. So let them drink sewage from Albany.

Blame Richard Burke, a member of the TV water board. BTW - he's also the Executive Director of the Libertarian Party of Oregon. He'll do anything to (a) stick it to Portland and (b) get press for himself in the process. He's a rather shameless self-promoter. Harsh - but true.

Why do you keep voting these goldshmidt people back in office- WAKE-UP


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