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Friday, April 23, 2010

E. coli! Quick -- get out your checkbooks!

We've had another E. coli scare at a Portland drinking water reservoir -- this one on Mount Tabor. Apparently they were getting ready to drain the reservoir to clean it anyway, and so they simply disconnected it and there was no big disruption to the public. But they say there was poop in them there reservoirs.

It's curious.

I've lived in Portland going on 32 years, and I can never remember even one prior incident like this, and here we've had two in five months. Has this never happened before? Has it happened, but the city never told us about it before? Or is the city just testing for it more frequently, or more vigorously, now?

In any event, given who's running the city these days, I don't blame critics of the water bureau for speculating that it is all a set-up. Is this part of a concerted effort to sell the public on an unnecessary gazillion-dollar reservoir replacement project that will make some "friends and family" construction companies rich, but bankrupt the water system and degrade water quality in the long run? I won't tell you it is, but I won't tell it isn't, either.

UPDATE, 7:45 a.m.: Meanwhile, while the city keeps telling us how bad the water situation is, we read this. Go figure.

Comments (11)

I'm wondering if the City is willing to shed any Ultra-Violet (UV) Light on the concern or is that considered a quick fix?

Jack: Two words.........Randy Leonard.

E Coli = Reservoir Lids

C'mon Saltzman/Shaft's engineering buddies need the contract.

"C'mon Saltzman/Shaft's engineering buddies need the contract."

Forgot to mention the buddies, MWH and Joe Glicker (ex-PWB employee) since I'm sure there are PWB trolls reading this.

We have more to worry about than this "outbreak" Another crypto, but not in the water:


Prosecuting attorneys can indite "ham sandwiches" and Randy's friends can find E Coli.

I think I recall reading about an incident affecting maybe 100 or so Portlanders way back in the 1950s because of bad water from a reservoir (gastro problem). Probably incidents like the current one have happened occassionally but the city just took it as routine and didn't do the alerts (just conjecturing here). So, maybe some truth to Mr. Jack's conjecture concerning political motivation.

I think another just as important matter is the growing power of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). I think this agency could use some reigning in. The EPA shows little concern about costs of their directives and the balancing of environment with the health of the economy. Reminds me of the western electricity crisis which occurred in the years 2000 to 2001. The crisis would have been much, much less economic ruinous if Sacramento had reigned in the South Coast Air Quality Board which imposed shut downs on many of California's generating plants giving no consideration to the desparate conditions in the electric markets at the time.

Shaff's engineer buddy, the one with the covered reservoir contract at Powell Butte wrote a great manifesto in the 90's about how to influence public opinion. This alleged 'E. coli' scam is following the script laid out to a 'T'. This is the same group who messed up the covered reservoirs in Seattle because of poor workmanship last summer.

Bob, open reservoirs are not the cause, never have been in +100 years. The illness you cite was later determined to not be from drinking water.

The reservoir debate is a lovely example of our tension with technology. The EPA seems to be insisting on a high-tech industrial water system while Portland wants to keep its own traditional system. For a city which seems to always want to be on the latest trend (bikeways, light rail, green spaces, et al.), our defense of the traditional water-system is slightly jarring.

Sadly, this is just another example our societal aversion to risk. While we complain about government's encroachment into our precious liberties, we demand that that our lives be protected and bubble-wrapped (by the government). We gently give up our liberties for security (insert that Franklin quote, yawn), but the cost-benefit on many of those transactions is not in our favor (i.e. reservoirs, air travel, immigration). At the same time, in less traditional areas, where the cost-benefit is arguably in our favor (i.e. regulation of synthetic derivatives, health insurance), society gets riled up about "keep[ing] the guvmint out of my medicare."

P.S. I like the association in the linked article between city satisfaction and trusting the water; reminds me of that Carlin routine.

Speaking of our beloved bureau of water.
I OBJECT to my sewer bill!


Many more citizens and businesses will be objecting as they see yet more increases:

The Portland Water Bureau proposed rate increases:
FY 2009-10 17.9%
FY 2010-11 18.9%
FY 2011-12 19.0%
FY 2012-13 18.8%
FY 2013-14 19.0%
In addition to the above proposed water usage charge, the base charge will
also be increased.

You can get more info by reading past threads about our Bull Run Water System.

Also some websites:

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