Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The “P” in PURB is not for “public”

In August 2004, the PURB published two issue papers: “ Additional Treatment of Bull Run Drinking Water” and “Burial of Water Storage Reservoirs in Mt. Tabor Park and Washington Park”. (Available online in the PURB 2004 Annual Report: .) The PURB reviewed the work of other committees organized around these issues, including that of the 2004 Reservoir Independent Review Panel (IRP) and the Unfiltered Systems Working Group (USWG doc referenced in PURB paper is available on the Friends of the Reservoirs website: ). The PURB papers came after a period of extensive public discussion about Portland’s drinking water. One PURB member at the time, Frank Ray, actually served on the Independent Review Panel and was thus active in the public meetings (3 hours per week, for 3 months) held to discuss all concerns related to our open reservoirs. Both of the August ’04 PURB position papers were unanimously supported by all eight PURB members.

This week, a 2 person subcommittee of the PURB made another recommendation regarding Portland’s reservoirs that is a complete reversal of the previous PURB recommendation issued August 2004. This subcommittee has yet to get the support of the full PURB regarding their new recommendation. These two people offered no citation list of the reviewed data, papers or interviews on which they based their reversal. I have directly asked both subcommittee members for a citation list, specifically highlighting (but not limited to) any new data that led them to reverse the PURB’s previous recommendation. As of today, my committee has serious questions regarding the efficacy of the PURB Water Subcommittee’s recommendation regarding our water system. As to my inquiry about the citation list, which I believe should be available to the public – only one of the PURB members responded, and he suggested we meet in person. That doesn’t sound open to the public to me.

PURB = Portland Utility Review Board