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The Friends of the Reservoirs will soon get some national media coverage of the battle over the Portland Water Bureau's Open Reservoir Replacement Project.

Contact: Kevin Bond


(Portland, Oregon) - The Friends of the Reservoirs will soon get some national media coverage of the battle over the Portland Water Bureau's Open Reservoir Replacement Project.

A few weeks ago, the Friends wrote a letter to the National Trust for Historic Preservation explaining the nature of our preservation emergency. They will post a copy of this letter (attached below) on their website as a Preservation 911 alert. The alert will be on Preservation magazine's website < http://www.nthp.org/magazine> on Tuesday, April 22 around Noon EST. They will also include a photo of the reservoirs, as well as the Friends' website address.

The Friends of the Reservoirs was formed last fall by a group of concerned citizens who oppose the reservoir project. Presently, the Friends are working on several fronts in an attempt to stop the project. One such front includes attracting greater local and national media attention to this issue.

The Friends of the Reservoirs oppose the project based on the large cost, the irreparable damage that will be done to the historic reservoirs, and its needlessness. The city plans to spend over $150 million, permanently increase water rates at least 7%, and pay outside consultants millions of dollars. The city plans to destroy 100-year old reservoirs, gatehouses, and walls. These historic structures will be gone forever. There are alternatives to burial that address the city's water quality and safety concerns. This project is absolutely unnecessary.

Text of Friends' letter to National Trust:

Dear Preservation 911,

We are having a preservation emergency here in Portland, Ore. I am a member of a grassroots organization known as the Friends of the Reservoirs, which is attempting to save our city's 100-year old open reservoirs from destruction by the city's Water Bureau. These reservoirs have been used for over 100 years for Portland's drinking water. Not only are they an integral part of the water system, they also serve as focal points within Mount Tabor Park. This unique interaction of water and public space was first identified by the Olmsteds in 1903.

Citing terrorism fears in the shadow of Sept. 11, the city wants to replace the reservoirs with buried storage tanks and develop new park space in their place. A public advisory committee is currently helping decide "what goes on top."

The Friends of the Reservoirs strongly opposes the current public process and the city council's decision in May 2002 to bury the reservoirs. We feel that the public was unfairly excluded from discussing alternatives to reservoir burial. Furthermore, there is very little public support for this project.

We need all the help we can get from all available sources. Right now, the Friends are raising money for our pending legal case against the city. We are also trying to raise public awareness of this project. But we need more help.

Our group, the Friends of the Reservoirs, have nominated the reservoirs for National Register consideration. I have contacted all other statewide orgs, but most are hesitant to get politically or legally involved.

Please feel free to contact me. Thank you!

Kevin Bond, Secretary
Friends of the Reservoirs
Portland, Oregon
URL:  http://www.friendsofreservoirs.org
E-mail:  kbond@pdx.edu

homepage: homepage: http://www.friendsofreservoirs.org
address: address: Portland, Oregon

required 22.Apr.2003 02:48


Thank god for your post. I will definitely bookmark your website. This is an outrage. I've noticed that my tap water has tasted pretty bad in the last few weeks. I have no idea if this has anything to do with the project , but I feel that it does... We need to let the city know that we aren't going to be governed by fear and greed. What was up with that guy running away from the cops and drowning anyway?

Outrageous 22.Apr.2003 09:19


"Furthermore, there is very little public support for this project."

Not true ... I, for one, am strongly in favor of the project and strongly opposed to this idiot stance of yours. I'm tired of decomposed body parts oozing out of my water taps.

Is it possible that you're merely trying to maintain your property values at the expense of everyone else?

For pity sake ... talk about a non-sensical, non-issue!

a thought 22.Apr.2003 09:57


One reason to oppose the covering of the reservoirs is that then that water is off limits to people.

In these times of privatization and the impoverishment of the poor, when mass civil unrest, already seen in other nations, is on the horizon here as well, covering the reservoirs is a way for the elite to put a public resource off limits to people.

If things get bad enough, and people cannot pay their water bills, they can still go dip a bucket in an open reservoir. If it is closed and buried, then it is removed from public access.

Perhpas this, more than 'terrorist attack' is the underlying reason for hiding water away from access.

Terrorists my Ass 22.Apr.2003 22:17


The terrorists are roaming this country, dismantling educational and social support systems as well as the environment. They include the greedy corporate CEO's that skim off working peoples' salaries, and the CEO resident in charge of this country.

reply 23.Apr.2003 09:02


One point that is missed on this issue, regardless of whether people think it is just about some well to do Mt. Tabor people upset that their park is gonna change, is that the water as it currently is, is accessible. In these days of privatization, putting the water underground is putting it more out of reach of citizens and under easier control of narrow interests.

In addition, the cost of water is going up for everyone in order to pay for the project, not just people living near Mt. Tabor.

Water Wars 23.Apr.2003 13:33


I also think it's necessary to look closely at the issue of privatization of water and its consequences in relation to this project. Water is the next oil. Privatization pirates are sucking up the world's water supplies as we speak, and they're coming here too. We need to protect our access to the water supply, and we cannot allow the reservoirs to be covered.

I say this, even though I personally think most of the people in the reservoir group are, in fact, privileged white people trying to save their great views and their property values. I really don't care for their snotty public behavior, but sometimes we need to work with people we may not always agree with for a common purpose.

When the revolution begins, I'm sure these same people will be on the other side, working with the brownshirts to keep The People down. But if we work together today, at least we'll all have water.

It's raining outside 24.Apr.2003 20:07


Looking out my window at the rain coming down, I somehow doubt that 'locking up the water supply' is ever going to be an issue ... at least not in Portland.

There's nothing to stop anyone from simply collecting what falls free and pure from the sky. It starts out purer than the city water supply and need not be polluted by running through old pipes made of various nasty substances.

Privatization isn't an issue either ... at least in the sense that the city runs the water supply and already has a monopoly on it.

Or, if you prefer to view that in itself as privitization, then the battle was lost over a century ago.

I still believe this is a non-issue. But, I do have what I think is a good solution that should keep everyone happy.

Go ahead with underground reservoirs for storing drinking water. Keep the existing reservoirs and convert them into waste water treatment plants complete with lovely gardens, as was done down by Salem at the Oregon Gardens.

The water supply is safe, we gain additional waste water treatment capacity and it still looks really nice ... everyone wins.