Friday, March 5, 2010

Church of Water

This week, citizens turned out to speak before the Portland Utility Review Board about the PURB Water Subcommittee's recommendation to "expeditiously" close the open reservoirs. Speakers unanimously opposed this PURB recommendation, and they did so with passion as they cited a trove of research.

Most notable was the testimony given by Dr. Gary Oxman of the Multnomah County Public Health Department, declaring there isn't any sound science linking open reservoirs to any public health risk/problem. In other words, there is no public health justification for discontinuing use of our reservoirs. There is no public health justification for spending $400 million to build new tanks.

People have been doing some not-so-light reading. Citizens touched on everything from relevant test data to questionable consultant influence to derivative backed bonds. I don't think I heard an actual, "amen," but I might have heard a, "sing-it-sister," or two. The mood in the room was more like an old-time Southern church than a board meeting. The message from citizens, for like the umpteenth time, was clear: Portlanders don't want what EPA's LT2 is selling.

A local filmmaker (Brad Yazzolino) captured the meeting on video, and it is available online (be patient, it takes a while to download). At least for now, the city has posted an audio file of the hearing. Reportedly, the city will eventually make the transcript available online along with all of the "for the record" written comments that were submitted before the meeting. I submitted a 34 page packet on behalf of the MTNA land use committee. I'd be glad to share it (it is one PDF of 4mg) but I don't know how to post a PDF on this blog. For now, I'll excerpt my letter and post it here.