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Sunday, August 21, 2011

EPA caves -- New York City may not have to cover reservoirs

Apparently, the federal environmental agency is backing off its demand that all open air drinking water reservoirs be covered. New York City has won a reprieve beyond 2028, and maybe a permanent one.

Ah, but the City of Portland continues to insist that it has no choice but to build tanks on Powell Butte and disconnect its reservoirs. Indeed, there's a $50 million tank just about ready to go in now. Will Portland stop the work, piggyback on New York's EPA ruling, and save ratepayers a bundle of dough?

We doubt it. Fireman Randy's determined to dole out this pork, and he's not going to be stopped. His response will be "It's too late to turn back now"; "We'll be sued if we cancel"; "Screw you, you'll do as I say," or some combination of the above. It will take Fish, Saltzman, and Fritz to pull the plug, and experience does not indicate that there's enough guts in that trio to get the right thing done. [Via Duin.]

Comments (23)

Covered storage tanks are only 1 issue regarding unfunded mandates to PWB from EPA.

The other issue is the filtration system or the UV treatment plant to kill the nonexistent cryptosporidium (?sp?) which was made so famous in Milwaukee, Wisconsin a few years back.

Nothing in this story indicates that EPA is backing away on filtration requirement, and that is a big big bog part of the cost that is going to face PWB rate payers in the next few years.

Still, its an interesting comparison regarding how Schumer went to bat for his state's biggest city.

The deafening silence from Wyden is exceeded only by the deafening silence from Merkeley.

And sitting befuddled in the corner is the Portland City Council, who apparently never asked Gatsby of Merkeley for help.

If I didn't know that it just doesn't work that way in Portland, I'd think Leonard and Scharf had some engineering consultant and contractor buddies with whom PWB wanted to spend the money.

But of course, that couldn't happen in Portland.


Fireman Randy and crew have always said that they might get an EPA waiver on the crypto treatment (which would be by ultraviolet light), but that they could never keep the open reservoirs:


That turns out to have been inaccurate, apparently.

I don't understand why the locals don't simply inform the EPA of the 9th & 10th amendments to the UA constitution and say no thanks.

Or if you (the EPA) really feel strongly about this, go ahead and pay for it.


Wow. The federal Clean Water Act is unconstitutional? That kind of goofy comment plays the issue right into City Hall's hands.

Bull Run is entirely within the state of Oregon. What is the Federal nexus?



Lots of laws that Congress passes are unconstitutional. You know that. As for the Clean Water Act, I would think that you could find 3 or 4 of the Supremes who would vote that it is unconstitutional. Probably can't get 5 votes today though, but if we have a few more years of recession there will be another vote or two available on the bench.

Yes, well, for now let's talk reality, shall we?

(BTW, the statute in question is likely the Safe Drinking Water Act, not the Clean Water Act, but my point is the same.)


I think you could have given Steve Novick a little credit here (reading the linked article). I've always liked the guy, but the biggest worry I've had is how cozy he is with Randy Leonard & co. Nice he's making sense on this even if it's not what the current powers that be want to hear.

That is a LOT of money.

If Novick doesn't change his version of this within 72 hours, I'd be pleasantly surprised. There's always some reason why Portland can't do the right thing.

I believe that EPA has authorized Oregon to have primary responsibility for enforcing the Safe Drinking Water Act within Oregon. If so, then the state may be able to grant the city an exemption under this portion of 42 USC 300g-4:

B) A State which has primary enforcement responsibility for public water systems may grant to one or more public water systems within its jurisdiction one or more variances from any provision of the national primary drinking water regulation which requires the use of a specified treatment technique with respect to a contaminant if the public water system applying for the variance demonstrates to the satisfaction of the State that such treatment technique is not necessary to protect the health of persons because of the nature of the raw water source of such system. A variance granted under this subparagraph shall be conditioned on such monitoring and other requirements as the Administrator may prescribe.

any provision of the national primary drinking water regulation which requires the use of a specified treatment technique

As I understand it, the rap from Salem (and the Water Bureau) so far has been that preventing contamination is not "treatment."

Cited Decision The Act exceeds congressional power, petitioners tell us, because it regulates the intrastate distribution and sale of drinking water. The challenge is to the Act on its face. To succeed, petitioners therefore must show that the Act would be constitutional under "'no set of circumstances."' Amfac Resorts, L.L.C. v. United States Dep't of Interior, 282 F.3d 818, 826 (D.C. Cir.) (quoting United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739, 745 (1987)), vacated in part on other grounds sub nom. Nat'l Park Hospitality Ass'n v. Dep't of Interior, 71 U.S.L.W. 4399 (May 27, 2003); see also Rancho Viejo, LLC v. Norton, 323 F.3d 1062, 1077-78 (D.C. Cir. 2003).
JK: I read this to say petitioners sought to have the law declared unconstitutional. I am merely asking why it should apply to a system ENTIRELY within a state.

Cited Decision Con- gress may regulate, pursuant to its commerce power, "per- sons and things in interstate commerce." United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549, 558 (1995).2
JK: This would seem to re-inforce the concept that the EPA cannot regulate our system since it DOES NOT involve "per- sons and things in interstate commerce."

(who is violating his own rule against arguing law with a lawyer)

That turns out to have been inaccurate, apparently.

I don't get it. Was Novick inaccurate? The Oregonian? Or Randy Leonard?

Well, NYC does have three US Senators, so EPA probably felt more pressure to cave.

Portland's dishonest and dysfunctional leadership is drunk on some sick allure for debt and incappable of doing anything rational or responsible.

And there is no sign of any change.

Quite the contrary the chaos is accelerating.

Jim, I actually like your plain reading of the word "interstate," but I think that's where your analysis is wrong, at least for now. That is, simply put, even activities that are seemingly located entirely within a state can be "interstate" for Constitutional purposes. Who knows, though? Maybe in the future, the US Supreme Court justices will take a less nuanced view of the words they are charged to interpret and we'll have a less homogeneous country, where the laws among the states can vary a lot more than they can now.

Good news that you CAN get the EPA to modify the LT2 regulation.

Now will somebody here PLEASE (there I asked nicely) do the right thing and keep Bull Run and the reservoirs in their historical, pristine, and fully functional condition?

Why can't any of our representative realize what a tremendous feather in their cap this could be if they stand up for Portland?

I suspect they have little desire to let go of the cash cow they've taken hostage known as The Portland Water Bureau.

Will Portland stop the work, piggyback on New York's EPA ruling, and save ratepayers a bundle of dough?

Important to know that NY had already had a timeline reprieve granted until 2028 when our city council had a hearing last May and despite that and a whole host of other issues brought forward, our council refused to ask or act for a delay.
The council chambers were filled with businesses and citizens pleading for Council to stop the increase in water rates, to stop the construction and not go forward with this June bid for that Powell Butte Tank.
They could have done just that, stopped the spending, instead Nick Fish joined Mayor and Leonard to add another $80 million to the project. So, they had the opportunity to not go forward, but would not stop and turned their backs on the ratepayers. Saltzman became absent for that vote.

So, there is your answer.

Then on July 20th, the help appeared on the matter when NY Senator Schumer sent a press release and a letter asking EPA to abandon that LT2 rule to cap the NY reservoir. He understood that the cost of $1.6 billion would be too costly for that community and indicated that for over 90 years there had not been a problem. A month later, he got a positive response from EPA .

Note: A whole month passed and not one of our Senators, Congressional reps, or a Council member would do the same for us as NY Senator Schumer did for his community.

They didn't ask because they didn't want to or were told not to. I imagine they could tell us now they did but wanted to keep it a secret? What a pathetic group we have here, apparently were more concerned about their position than for the people and our water and water rights. It looks foolish for them and for every other elected official here who has gone along with the plan and/or kept silent about this most important matter, our water.

PWB is planning to pour millions more now on another big project, the Kelly Butte tank. Will they stop now?

Can we trust any of them to do the right thing?

We as a community must pressure them to stop. Enough already. Our community has been treated so shabbily by PWB, Leonard and whoever else is behind all of this. They set the timeline on this and said they had to hurry and comply and no other possible way, yada yada yada while spending and shoveling out our money and creating an enormous amount of debt.

I am one of the involved citizens as many of you know having written about this matter on this blog, there are many others and several citizen groups who have refused to be silent on this who were willing to stand up knowing they were standing on solid ground, the science and the truth.

Too many have been playing political games with our hard earned dollars and with the health of our community I might add. In my opinion, not one of them deserves to hold any elected office as they have betrayed the public trust, stewardship and interests.

This has been made to be complex by all the twists and turns, deception, political rules not based on science forcing people to change systems and to pay money to corporations, and in the end what should prevail, is the simple fact that our 100 yr. old water system here is sustainable and has provided us with one of the country's best drinking water.

The O is just now reporting that the Oregon delegation to Congress and our local politicians are researching, exploring why Portland can't be included in what may given to NYC-boy are they late by three years. But Leonard is sitting on the fence saying "hold your horses, it's early". What a putz. At least Amanda is asking for a halt to the Powell Butte reservoir building. Please, Amanda put it up for a vote at Council immediately. Sam is nowhere to be found so it could pass.

Everyone should congratulate the Senator from NY, and they should call, email, write and hound our national legislators to do the same thing. Leonard and the prized PWB are not going to ask, and our legislators may say they have to be asked. I feel the they have been asked, and we have a council that will not listen, nor do they care about the citizens of Portland. They have their individual agendas and that is all that matters. I for one would rather pay the money to have an election of Sam and Randy were to step away early. Maybe then some of these other unecessary expenses could be halted. I bet the canceling of the contracts would be cheaper then the events themself.

Way to go Jack... Things are getting exposed! I read this last night and work up angry... Stop the Hole.. which evolved into ... what happened to the guy piss'n in the reservoir? Make him piss in Randy's hole as retribution and redistribution.

Congressman Blumenaur is in the news!


I especially enjoyed 60% done Dave's remark at the end of the article, as did it's writer... was that a snicker?!!!

From above link,Randy's letter to Senator Merkly:

Last Friday, to the City’s extreme surprise, the EPA reversed its longstanding refusal to review the LT2 requirements for uncovered reservoirs.

Last Friday, to the City's extreme dismay, the EPA reversed.......

There! I fixed it!

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