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Friday, September 3, 2010

"A billion dollar debt, and degraded water"

A couple of southeast Portland residents (one a scientist, one not) sound off against Portland's mad rush to disconnect its reservoirs and build huge underground tanks for its drinking water instead. Most Portlanders don't realize it, but that one's pretty much a done deal. Remember the public hearings? Me neither.

It's all part of the City Council's borrow-and-spend disease -- what you get when you elect people with big egos and no money skills. Eventually they'll be mixing Columbia and Willamette River water in with Bull Run water -- something nobody wants, but it will mean many hundreds of millions in construction pork for the CH2M Hill types.

Where will our children live? We're getting the strong feeling that it won't be here.

Comments (21)

And underground tanks have their own set of problems as well. They are not the final solution!

If the reservoirs end up being covered, the disnfection gases such as chloroform will end up in our homes. These are going to be inhaled by the children and can also end up in breast milk. Senator Merkley has been a supporter of breastfeeding, recently proposing health legislation. I hope he realizes the negative effect on health covering these reservoirs will have on infants.

As crazy as that all may seem, I did some research when I set up an automatic watering system for my dogs. I remember a survival hint I had read about drinking water in the desert. Avoid the ponds that had no life.
My dogs (and now chickens) drink from a pond (slightly elevated wash tub) that I only check occasionally. It has some irises I cut back yearly, a handful of 10 cent goldfish that live without my intervention year around. Off hand It would gross me out to drink from it, but in an emergency I know it is as healthy as any mountain stream.

Then again, one could presumably say the same thing about other very, very rare catastrophic events (e.g., earthquakes, tsunamis), and the huge regulatory and infrastructure costs associated with minimizing their impact.

PJB...those regulations do not knowingly introduce toxins into a system used for everyday consumption by infants, children, pregnant women, etc..

If Portland water is too toxic, a person could just disconnect their service at the main and buy enough bottled water to get by or park a water truck in their driveway and plug it into an outdoor spigot. Maybe dig an outhouse in the back, although that probably wouldn't pass environmental muster. True believers in the toxin theory must be putting for sale signs in their yards now, given the time it takes to sell a house these days. It will be hard to justify putting the kids in such a dangerous situation as to have to drink tap water in Portland. I just thank God that my kids are grown and will be able to make their own decision on whether to take the risk of drinking Portland water. I wonder how people in other cities with water from closed reservoirs or from underground tanks are dealing with this risk.

Should you care if your water is pure Bull Run or that with a contaminated composition such as the WB suggests in their own documents will soon be delivered to Portland citizens. The problem is water as defined by the EPA only has to meet their standards, and does not consider that it could be delivered uncontaminated. Dilution is their solution.

That public meeting they may be referring to was held Easter weekend last year at Glencoe. This was not a sanctioned or formal Bureau organized function, just concerned citizens wanting information.

Randy Leonard along with some congressional staff attended. Approximately 200 citizens showed up for a 2 presentation and Q and A.

It was not well advertised and of course ended up on a holiday weekend.

The problem with meeting at this point in time (early April of 2009) was that it was too late to begin any public process to scrutinize what Water already had well underway.

Only in March of 2009 did the W B send a request to introduce protective legislative language to representatives to defer action that would preclude citizens from spending hundreds of thousands on consulting, pre building of the filtration facility that was approved in a single vote in Council shortly after.

The timing and delivery of that request letter was not what the W B had earlier represented they would do and one has to wonder why it was not sent as promised. The Bureau did not make any request to the delegation for more than one year after making a commitment to do so, and then only at the very last date possible.

There were no formal work session the public could attend to question the plan or costs, just an internal process that then was voted on by a less than fully informed Council.

With that Council vote in April of 2009, by default were included approvals to go forward with the spending regardless of the outcome of any legislative solution or deferral of building a facility. The WB had negotiated with EPA on a compliance plan just prior to that Council vote, so nothing citizen could say would impact that plan. Council could only vote to approve.

When those concerned citizens requested documents and engineering drawings beginning in January of 2009 to inform them for the Glencoe discussion and to provide to Council relevant information prior to their vote, they were ignored.

What we wanted were proof of that letter seeking legislative relief, and the date stamped drawings and plan revisions to see what was planned and when these plans were approved internally. Some who followed these developments closely doubted that the WB was honoring their 2008 representations to seek a legislative solution in a timely fashion so Portland would not have to spend funds unnecessarily on the EPA requirements to cover, or even plans to do so.

These drawings would all be on CAD files and electronically available, so there should be no barrier to review. The requests were simply ignored. It seemed the W B goal was to have the Council vote before disclosing any such information to them or citizens.

It appears that the WB resolved future obligations of publicly disclosing such work by hiring engineers internally rather than going outside where RFPs and contract specs could disclose intentions and the be available to the public.

Unfortunately they can also extend or rollover existing contracts without any new RFP, so transparency is no given.

That public funds are spent seems beside the point.

See the link below for OMFs view of the coming debt load brought to us by this facility.


'The current financial market crisis has also resulted in downgrades of credit ratings of many of the municipal bond insurers who participated in the mortgage market. The Bureau has to establish a
bond reserve accounts due to the inability to secure surety bonds. The Bureau does not have sufficient financial resources on hand to fund bond reserves, therefore, the bond reserve is being
funded using bond proceeds. This results in a larger bond sale than would otherwise be needed to fund the CIP, resulting in higher annual debt service payments; thereby in turn requiring higher
retail rates to provide adequate funding to pay the annual debt service payments and to meet debt debt service coverage.'

The WB also approved a separate document request policy exclusive to the bureau requiring citizens to pay for an employee to "watch over" those reviewing any documents and pay that hourly wage prior to obtaining any copies or even for simply reviewing them.

Does this sound like a bureau where transparency matters?

Gary...as awareness of environmental toxin levels such as chloroform et al. continue to increase you'll be hearing more. The children being exposed to increased levels from closed reservoirs have no choice.
As it is now your Water Bureau thinks nothing of sending us radioactive water. Neither of the toxins is theory.

C'mon you know Saltzmn's buddies at the consulting engineering place need work.

I am constantly amazed at how these pols commit us to stupid ideas just so some of their friends and family can get contracts.

I don't know about killer water. But I do know about killer toxins.

Indeed, scientists are incredibly alarmed about this life-threatening killer toxin.

Even worse, The City of Portland is complicit in its spread. Not only do they actively promote the spread of this toxin's vector, they actively SPREAD the very vector itself. Even worse they have a PAID STAFF POSITION (if not several) whose sole aim, indirectly, is to expose us to ever greater concentrations of this deadly toxin.

You can read more about it here:

(It's in the trees!!!)

And on another note, I sure would hate to see the foolish politician who would dare propose flourinating Portland's water!

I drink the water all the time. And the feds seem to have overreacted since no one seems to be getting sick. But the scientist seems silly. How can the sun help the water? Doesn't the sun also promote algae to grow? And isn't some algae toxic? Add that to the dust, pollen, and whatever else the winds blows in or people throw in. It's hard to believe that the reservoirs are better than closed tanks. It would be nice if the scientist could show some links to scientifically peer reviewed studies that support all his claims. And it seems like a good rule of thumb to me that it's not a good idea to have a bunch of birds crapping in the drinking water. But then again, I'm no scientist.

Myth: Microbes are a threat to public health, while chemicals are not.

Fact: The overarching goal in drinking water management is to produce water that supports the public’s health.

Does completely eliminating all microbes from drinking water make people healthier? There is data that suggests otherwise. A 2004 study by the Water Research Foundation (WRF) suggests a surprisingly complex relationship between microbe levels found in American tap water and the incidence of chronic diseases associated with microbes found in an American’s everyday environment. Decreasing the microbes found in a drinking water supply clearly increases health, up to a certain point. Modern drinking water systems have mastered this point by separating sewage and drinking supplies (among many other conventions). Beyond a certain point, however, a further reduction of microbes seems to be linked to an increase in the number of people suffering from chronic, related diseases. The WRF study would seem to suggest that there may be a point at which the public is dependent on some small amount of microbe exposure (pollen, coliform, etc.) in the drinking water to provide them immunity and increase resistance to the microbes encountered in the normal course of a person’s day. Which sounds familiar = small, occasional exposure builds immunity and increases resistance to chronic disease. Employing large chemical treatment plants as an additional barrier between taps and an extremely well protected, pristine water supply like Bull Run may unnecessarily deny the population a chance to incrementally build immunity to microbes, while dramatically increasing the chemicals to which we are exposed. Modern drinking water is increasingly laced with a myriad of chemicals, many of which are employed to adjust the composition of that water. There is remarkably little recognition among water industry officials and municipality managers of the long-term effects those chemicals have on humans, in various stages of life.

For more facts like these visit: http://mtna-landuse.blogspot.com/search/label/PURB

Eddie - The Sun provides UV radiation, and for free. PWB plans to block out the sun, and run the water through a UV plant where the UV is supplied by teflon covered, mercury filled bulbs. This costs around $100 million to build, and more than $16 million a year just to pay the new "light" bill. And when a bulb breaks, you have Mercury in the water system. This is the best solution PWB said it could find to the unfunded and unfounded mandate to treat our water for a Crypto problem we don't have.

I have said before and will again that our Council apparently has no conscience on this matter. If they claim they do not know, then they are inept, and in such a serious decision matter, they should know. There is no excuse except that they either don’t want to know or don't sincerely care about the health of our community's drinking water or the financial well being adding this unnecessary billion dollar debt to our community.

Shame on them for excluding our community on something so basic, our water. We have had to swallow enough of their shenanigans, but this time they have crossed the line wanting us to swallow toxic chemicals now too!! Attempting to do all this under the radar screen!

Eventually they'll be mixing Columbia and Willamette River water in with Bull Run water -- something nobody wants, but it will mean many hundreds of millions in construction pork for the CH2M Hill types.

So when were we going to find out about this plan?? After “we” pay millions for the set-up so they can blend this stuff and then “we” pay more and more again to drink this??

Just leave our good drinking water alone, this sustainable system has been good for 100 years and it will be good for another 100 unless they mess it up. By the time "their" plan would be done, this could be like an egg scrambled that can’t be put back together again, and it looks like that’s the path they are on.

No respect should be shown PWB, Leonard or the Council on this one. It just looks like they are more interested in another path and not for the best public interest path.

Gary hit it on the head: the enriching the coffers of Nestle, who is positioning themselves for just such a scenario, using what? You guessed it and it ain't the Columbia!

If the choice comes down to the Columbia or bottled, well, I can easily imagine the Nestle folks rubbing their hands in glee!

We need that waiver!

Scientist, Scott Fernandez knows what he is talking about, afterall he is a scientist, are you? I back anything he has to say on OUR water issue with Bull Run. People are greedy, want to make money within the internal system, at the expense of OUR water. It is not only dangerous, but few can afford to pay them what they want to revise it, when in fact, it doesn't need to be revised at all. Leave it alone, save our money, and our health!.

Well, I may be a big dummy, but the last time I looked the sun doesn't shine all day, and in the winter not at all. So I have to think the disinfection is from chlorine and not the sun. And can someone please explain to me how birds swimming and crapping in the drinking water is a good idea. Maybe it's the microbes they ad. As far as the scientist, show me the proof. Otherwise he's just another blow hard.

You sure have been quick to come on and it appears to be that the main purpose of your comments on here yesterday and today are to discredit the scientist. Guess you weren’t interested in reading the citizen’s comments or you would have seen that there are solutions if you are so concerned about birds, such as bird wires.

There is a history of the Portland Water Bureau to discredit those who go against their plans. . so have to question if you are a troll from the bureau here to discredit the scientist.

The NW Examiner earlier this year tells about how the PWB discredited another scientist and that scientist sued for slander and violation of his right of free speech. In 1993, the city settled with him for $73,00 and a written apology. PWB promised they wouldn’t do that again.

In the article, the head of our Water Bureau tries to discredit Fernandez. Others in the article respect Fernandez and his knowledge. The scientist Doug Larson who sued, said “I got a promise from them that they would not denigrate citizen activists who were just trying to do the right thing” Said Larson. “They don’t like citizen involvement,” he concluded. “They want to do it their way.”

"Boiling Point" Article on cover, pages 5 and 7.

Of course we all know that when the truth is not on one’s side, all that is left then is to discredit the people with the truth, isn’t that so?

Eddie, it is quite easy to do research on issues such as the percentage of cancers attributable to radon gas, which frequently enters homes with water supply. Radon is soluble when confined with water. A great deal of research is going on now about this, as radon is the prime suspect in some very serious cancer clusters in children. In addition to the tumors sometimes associated with radon exposure, lung ailments are also correlated with radon exposure. If your last name is Campbell, you may already know this. As for covered storage, for water such as ours vents are necessary. Animals get through the vents and die in the water out of site. This yields pictures when they are discovered that can be rather interesting. Scott Fernandez has some of the pictures, as I recall. By all means, if you do not trust one scientist, go to primary sources. A law firm associated with Erin Brockavich is looking into cancer clusters and radon. Erin B. is not a scientist herself, but I expect she knows some pretty good independent scientists. Erin B. is not a lawyer either, but she is quite famous for tenacious research. Even people without fancy credentials are capable of tenacious research.

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