Portland pushing ultraviolet water treatment after all
Christmastime is scam time in local government in Portland, and the residents who try to keep an eye on the city's water bureau are being kept particularly busy this year. Remember that "variance" that the city was supposedly getting from the state, so that it wouldn't have to install a hyper-expensive ultraviolet water treatment plant at the Bull Run reservoir? That was a great relief to city's water consumers, who would have to pay for such a facility.
But remember how tight the city's water commissioner and his bureaucrat minions were, behind closed doors, with Carollo Engineers, the ultraviolet water treatment specialists? Remember how hellbent the city seemed to be building the treatment plant, even though the microbes that it would kill have never been found in the Bull Run water? And how anemic the city's resistance to the federal treatment mandate was? The prospect of getting the "variance" from state regulators seemed to kill the project, despite the city's eagerness, not too long ago, to build it.
Well, fast forward to this week, and suddenly we discover that the city is still pursuing zoning changes in Clackamas County (in which Bull Run is located) that would allow the ultraviolet plant to be built after all. It's pretty shocking.
Floy Jones, the main thorn in the water bureau's side, updated us as follows yesterday afternoon:
We are not so sure that any of the Bureau pork is going away. Last night the Oregon Health Authority held their public hearing on their intent to award a variance with no one testifying against it, though several organizations are commenting against irrational conditions OHA attached to the variance.
But today the PWB and City Attorney Terry Thatcher were in Clackamas County for their land use hearing for the UV radiation plant. We first heard of this hearing was on December 12, day before yesterday. There was never any notice provided to community stakeholders, nothing in the Oregonian. There has been no public discussion, no opportunity to discuss the major changes the Bureau made to the [sales pitch] they gave to City Council. When the project was described to City Council in 2009, the sales pitch for building a UV radiation plant in the watershed was that the project would fit into the small footprint of the current operations building. In the last 24 hours the PWB notified Clackamas County that their land use request is now a master plan of projects that includesmultiple new buildings, cutting trees, a sewage system -- projects they said they will phase in. Clackamas County will give land use approval with no future opportunities for public hearings. The city was not happy with our presence, needless to say....
We secured a seven-day delay to address a few specific issues; then the city can respond, but after that no new evidence can be submitted with all decided by January 3 -- ironically, the same date that the Oregon Health Authority will make its final decision on the variance.
The water bureau's consultants and bureau reps strongly argued against any delay in approving their UV treatment plant conditional land use request. Their consultant (Greg Winterowd, Winterowd Planning) said they were happy to work over Christmas holiday to get this approved. Likely they will get OT pay.
One of the attached docs is the Clackamas County Land Use Hearing description, the other a paper describing how the Bureau plans to address the risks of significant contamination of drinking water from breaking bulbs. In their LU request they indicated that there was no hazardous material related to the project!
Ah, the distinctive smell of rat. The U.S. attorney needs to take a long, hard look at the Portland water bureau. There is something quite peculiar going on over there with these big contracts.