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Monday, June 6, 2011

Do the right thing, Salem

Dragged kicking and screaming by its residents and businesses, the Portland water bureau is asking the environmental bureaucrats in Salem to let it off the hook from a federal mandate to treat its water supply for a bug that it has never had and probably never will. If the request for a "variance" is turned down, they'll build a giant ultraviolet light treatment facility -- the kind of big money engineering project that gets City Hall quite aroused. Oh, and it would be at Bull Run, where the consultants sit up at night and bay at the moon.

Let's hope that the state has the good sense to recognize the science and the practicalities of the situation and get this waste of money off the table. It's bad enough that the water boys and girls are hellbent on disconnecting the reservoirs in town in favor of their spendy new underground tanks that will create no fewer problems than they solve. That alone has gotten Grandma's water bill higher than her blood pressure.

Comments (5)

The variance PWB is promoting is just another scam so they can waste more time to raise rates, and "make work" more unneeded projects for their buddies to line their pockets with ratepayer cash. Going to the state is no help because they can and will change their minds depending on current politics. We need an EPA waiver to keep the system and reservoirs intact, or the increasing water radon figures Jack wrote about last week will be ending up in your shower water.

The EPA has now put this under the jurisdiction of the state. But if the PWB is really trying for the variance (which took them way too long to request and then they presented a minimal case for it compared to other cities making similar requests), they would stop spending taxpayer money disconnecting reservoirs, etc. until they heard the decision on the variance. The timetable to disconnect these is self-imposed by the PWB. After all the contentious meetings between Leonard/PWB and the Mount Tabor neighbors, park & reservoir supporters, its hard not to wonder if the Leonard/PWB's decision to move forward with reservoir disconnection and spending thousands of taxpayer dollars before they are required to - is them playing out their dislike of the neighborhood activists on the taxpayers' dollars.

I don't understand why we would want to exempt the City of Portland - and its water ratepayers - from the kind of crazy, unnecessary, expensive environmental regulations that are overwhelmingly supported in Portland, even if they are killing the country.

We need to keep our open reservoir system which is integral to the entire Bull Run Water System and is sustainable. Our Council will not ask for a Waiver for the reservoirs; that is the "elephant" in the room they ignore, and that is a huge expenditure. As listed below future project costs - $800 Million with debt.

EPA does not intervene in polluted water systems so something is amiss here in our local political scene as officials are just laying down regarding the public good on this water matter. I have gone to some town hall meetings where representatives state they do not know much about this or just want to dismiss the discussion of the reservoirs. One said they might be able to save the $100 Million for the treatment plant.

As insider mentioned above, politics play in this. In my view, we cannot depend on any Portland elected official at this point, as none have indicated they will do everything they can to save our system. There has been a remarkable silence on this; it is now up to we the citizens to let them know whom they are supposed to be working for. What are we to think when it looks like across the board they have been told to stand down on this, except possibly for the $100 Million? This may just be another tactic on water bureau's menu for us to "rely" on whom at the state level while they continue spending.

It is insane to spend money on "a problem that does not exist!" They do not care that our good drinking water will be ruined and our community will be forced to drink seriously degraded water. The issue of radon doesn't seem to matter to them either.

It's bad enough that the water boys and girls are hellbent on disconnecting the reservoirs in town in favor of their spendy new underground tanks that will create no fewer problems than they solve...

The water boys and girls may be hell-bent on disconnecting the reservoirs, and the watchdogs are just as hell-bent on getting the truth out to the people about this, the open reservoirs are the healthy way to go, storage tanks have the problems and the water rates and debt will be enormous if this water bureau and Council do not stand up to do what is right and stop using this rule as an excuse to keep spending.

p. 3 Editorial and
p. 20 ad - from Friends of Safe Drinking Water © 2011:
Open reservoir public health benefits
✔ Carcinogenic gases such as Radon and
chloroform vent safely into atmosphere
✔ No deaths from microorganisms or chemicals
✔ Oxygenation provides natural disinfection process
and cleaner, fresher tasting drinking water
✔ Sunlight inhibits nitrification and toxins
✔ Future costs - minimal for maintenance

Public health problems with covered
storage tanks
✔ Carcinogenic gases unable to vent end up in
homes, schools, and workplaces
✔ Deaths from Salmonella, unvented toxic gases
✔ Rubberized asphalt coatings contain carcinogens
from petrochemicals that may leach into water
✔ Covering encourages nitrification and toxins
✔ Future costs - $800 million with debt

Looks like the water bureau and Council want to appear now as though they finally "did ask" for something – it simply is not enough - we need to insist that they they save those reservoirs as well and stop creating more debt. (Remember Council was asked way back in a July 2009 hearing by organizations and citizens to delay, but Council preferred to keep on spending and did nothing else of significance. If they did, the best kept secret. People now know, that they just want to continue with the contracts and spending.)

The city, and if they are unwilling, then our Senators should ask for a Waiver from all of this, at the very least do as NY did as they got a reprieve until 2028 and are now asking for a longer deadline until 2034.

BY THEN, we may all realize that this LT2 rule was based on politics, not on science and essentially was rigged to give money to corporations by forcing communities whether they have a problem or not to comply with this rule.

BY THEN, we might just have a city council and/or other elected officials who actually will protect our interests, our water system and our communities financial health and the health of our good drinking water instead of turning their backs on us.

Slight improvement from:

"We can't do anything, we can't do anything"


"Maybe somebody else can do something"

Will probably make a good item to add to their reelection list of accomplishments:

*** Passed the buck whenever possible

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