Thursday, February 4, 2010

Letter To City Council - Facts Don't Support Policy

Via email 2-1-2010

Dear Commissioners -

The Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association respectfully urges Portland’s City Council and the Portland Water Bureau to press on in the fight to keep Portland’s open reservoirs, so as to avoid wasting millions (if not billions) of dollars for unnecessary new facilities. We find the January 17, 2010, letter from Friends of the Reservoirs raises a number of substantive points, and it advises a course of action we support.

In the 1973 case to protect Bull Run from logging, Judge Burns rather pointedly put his finger on one of the flaws in that debate. He drew a distinction between statements of policy or purpose, and statements of fact. At that time, the Federal government issued policy statements like “logging will protect Bull Run from catastrophic fire,” but upon investigation the facts proved logging increased both the risk of and the damage caused by fire. Portland is again in a position where the Federal government has asserted a statement of policy: “covering your reservoirs will protect public health.” And once again, when Portlanders investigate, the facts just don’t bear out. EPA has documented multiple cases of death and illness caused by infectious Cryptosporidium outbreaks in drinking water systems. Every single case was either in a system with covered drinking water storage, or in a system where sewage, industrial, and farm runoff mixed with drinking water. The policy to “protect people from infectious Crypto” can be supported. The facts, however, don’t seem to support the use of “coverings” as a meaningful treatment technique for microbes.

We once again respectfully urge City Council to resist giving in to LT2 projects that waste ratepayer monies.

Stephanie Stewart
On behalf of the Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association