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VIDEO FILE: More Hands Around the Reservoirs

Sunday, September 28, 2003, at noon, members of the Portland Commmunity gathered at 41st and SE Hawthorne to rally and march against City intentions to destroy and bury the historic water reservoirs located on Mt. Tabor in Southeast Portland. This is a 7 minute video of that event.
This decision was made with no public input or involvement, and is moving ahead, despite large and vocal public opposition. According to City, the project is a response to vulnerability to terrorist sabotage. Yet, during the early, decision making phases of this project, no alternatives were considered, and it seems that price is no object. At least to those who are making this decision. Money IS a large issue with those who oppose the burial, those who will be footing the bill, which will certainly be higher water bills in the future.
A brief list of reasons cited by Friends of the Reservoirs
to oppose the project:
1. Opposed by a majority of ratepayers.
2. Excessive, escalating and undisclosed costs; water-sewer bill will double.
3. Not required by any Federal EPA Water Quality rules.
4. Not required by any Federal Anti-Terrorist rules.
5. Cheaper, safer alternatives exist.
6. Destruction of historic and cultural landmarks.
7. Circumvention of land use laws and OPEN PUBLIC PROCESS.
8. Contrating irregularities/improprieties; decision to bury reservoirs was made by contractors who stand to profit from the decision.
9. Majority of experts conclude that municipal reservoirs are virtually impossible to contaminate.
Besides their website, Friends of the Reservoirs can be reached at 503-774-751.
A gathering of about a hundered people moved up Hawthorne to the reservoirs starting at about noon. The plan was to meet up with other people at the lower reservoir, #6, and, holding hands, encircle the reservoir, before moving on uphill to do the same with the reservoir above, #5. The march was festive, orderly and peaceful, with drum corps, belly dancers, and numerous children, dogs and creative signs.
By the time the march reached the rising ground at the base of Mt Tabor, 10 blocks away, the size of the crowd had more than doubled, and upon reaching the reservoirs there was more than enough of the 800 people necessary to circumscribe the reservoir, which was built in 1911. According to Cascade Andedrson-Geller, whose interview comprises much of the narration for this seven minute video, these reservoirs, the first being completed in 1894, were built for both beauty and utility, "beautility." Care was taken to implement the best methods and materials, and they have withstood the test of time magnificently.
Though standing in a scorching late September afternoon, everyone waited until the signal to hold hands and roar out their support to save the reservoirs, demanding a voice in how to protect the community from any possible future terrorist threat. This project is expected to take over five years, necessitate additional roads and the widening of present roads, at a cost of $200,000,000 dollars. At a time when schools and public services are being severely curtailed, many think that this is an incredible waste of community resources, especially when, it seems, the company which made this decision is also the company which was awarded the contract to do the work. Is there anything wrong with this picture?
Due to the heat, the plans to encircle the upper reservoir were called off, though there was abundance attendance to do so. Besides grassroots organizing and negotiating with the City, another strategy is unfolding. Citizens for Safe Affordable Water, at 503-771-4465, have filed two Initiative Petitions with the City Elections office to ammend the City Charter.
One would require that the City Councuil refer prospective water revenue and measures to the electorate for a vote where the debt service on those bonds may increade annual water rates by more than 3%, in any future year except where such bonds are necessary to repair damage caused by a catastrophic event.
A separate petition would amend Section 11-105 of the City Charter, Rates and Charges to guarantee that members of the community have a voice, by creating a Public Water Board, which "shall fix water rates which will provide an estimated income to equal expenses and debt service relating to water bond.
I encourage a visit to their website, for these folks have done their homework and provide and enormous amount of background information about this issue, too much to provide for you here. There are many ways that members of the community can assist in this effort, from contacting elected officials to writing letters to the editor. And too, as they say, "think positive, your actions will make a difference."
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