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Pdx City Council to Consider Water Treatment Plant Wednesday

Portland City Council will consider this week a proposal to build a water treatment plant (LT2) for our pristine Bull Run water. The plan is, we are told, designed to address a US EPA requirement that all drinking water in the US be treated/filtered for Cryptosporidium.
While this cookie cutter approach will likely add to the safety of water in other cities, it is not appropriate in Portland because our Bull Run system supplies water with virtually no possibility of contamination. Cryptosporidium in a form that is lethal to humans has never been found in the Bull Run water system. There has been no demonstrated need for treatment/filtration.

The construction of a water treatment plant will be very expensive, $385 million, all of it to be paid for by the city water users. The $385 million would be financed via the issuance of bonds; interest payments due and paid for by water users would increase that figure to close to $1 billion dollars.

The treatment proposal has been developed by MWH (Montgomery, Watson, Harza) Global, a multi-national corporation operating in 30 countries with over 7000 employees, and revenues over $1.3 billion annual. MWH has been involved with the Portland Water Bureau for years as a consultant and now they propose to build a treatment plant.

Alliance for Democracy has joined others in calling for the Portland city council to postpone a decision until later in August, and to hold public meetings scheduled it a time when citizens can attend.

Please see the letter below from Oregon Wild and signed by both myself and AfD member, Nancy Matela. Please contact the Portland City council and add your voice to the opposition .

AfD's interest in this issue stems from our concern about privatization of our commons. Water is one of those very important commons. The typical pattern for privatization is for a city's water bureau to incur large expenses which they cannot afford in the long run. At some time, a private corporation comes in and offers to run the system or to buy the system and to run it for the city as in the case of Wilsonville where the French multi-national corporation Veolia runs the water treatment plant. The usual result of such a course of action is that city employees are fired, wages and benefits are cut and service deteriorates as the private corporation drains profits out of the system.

On the Friends of the Reservoirs website is a lenghtly article on MWH involvement with the Portland Water Bureau over the course of several decades, including that a former employee of PWB, Joe Glicker, is now the Regional Vice-President of MWH. Joe Glicker was a manager in the PWB in 1989 and on the city selection committee when the first contract for consulting services was issued to MWH.

It is best to let the Friends article speak for itself, "With regard to both Bull Run treatment and the open reservoirs, MWH (Glicker) was contracted by the PWB to assist in negotiating the EPA Enhanced Surface Water rules including LT2, a rule that would mandate the construction of an unnecessary Bull Run treatment plant and, ultimately, burying, covering or additionally treating (at the outlet) the open reservoirs (1997-2003) Initially, the rule development process was focused on increasing watershed protections, the only true protection for keeping sewage and its resultant problematic contaminants out of drinking water. Watershed protection activities benefit the drinking water community but not corporations. The same is true of good operating and maintenance practices related to in town storage facilities, Portland's five open reservoirs- good operations and maintenance protects our in town storage but does not benefit the corporations- thus the push for build projects."

 http://friendsofreservoirs.org/background.html This acticle is worth reading in full.

Let's not go down this road.

Ask the Portland city council now to postpone a decision until the public can gain knowledge of what is at stake and can get their voices heard.

Contact info:
Mayor Sam Adams -  mayorsam@ci.portland.or.us, 503.82.4120
Commissioner Nick Fish -  Nick@ci.portland.or.us, 503.823.3589
Commissioner Amanda Fritz -  amanda@ci.portland.or.us, 503.823.3008
Commissioner Randy Leonard -  randy@ci.portland.or.us, 503.823.4682
Commissioner Dan Saltzman -  dsaltzman@ci.portland.or.us, 503.823.4151

In addition to the letter below from Oregon Wild, please see the editional comment by the Oregonian where they write "The best solution, of course, is the one that would cost nothing: Leave Portland's water alone."

 link to www.oregonlive.com

David e. Delk, Alliance for Democracy - Portland Chapter 503 232 5495 www.afd-pdx.org

Letter by Oregon Wild
July 22, 2009

We, the undersigned, strongly urge the City Council to immediately take action today to:

1) Delay the July Council hearing and vote on Bull Run treatment until mid-late August and

2) Schedule such hearing for an evening session so that Portland residents and businesses will have a voice in this critical Council decision which will impact our drinking water for generations to come.

While we understand that the Bureau and the City have a clock ticking with the EPA, there has been insufficient time for Portland citizens and businesses to analyze and respond to related materials (including the response to Council questions).

A hearing scheduled from August 12 - August 28 would not jeopardize Portland's standing with the EPA

Thank you for your consideration of this request.


Regna Merritt Executive Director, Oregon Wild
Catherine Thomason, MD Executive Committee, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility
Sebastian Pastore VP Brewing Operations, Craft Brewers Guild, Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
Dan W. Bourbonais General Manager Alsco - American Linen
Floy Jones Friends of Reservoirs
Frank Gearhart Citizens Interested in Bull Run, Inc.
Jeffrey Boly President, Board of Arlington Heights Neighborhood Association
Stephanie Stewart Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association Land Use Chair
Scott Fernandez former City of Portland Water Quality Advisory Committee and PURB
David E. Delk Alliance for Democracy, Portland Chapter
Nancy Matela Food and Water Watch, Northwest Region
Kathy Newcomb Citizens for Safe Water
Alex P. Brown Executive Director, Bark
Meryl Redisch Executive Director, Audubon Society of Portland