Thursday, June 16, 2011

Convincing the Public

We have a water bureau administrator that doesn’t feel the need to conserve public dollars as acutely as he should. Shaff’s response to drain the reservoir was an overreaction that he himself admitted was not scientifically inspired but rather based on something he called, “the yuck factor.” This characterization is unprofessional, irresponsible, and frankly, almost unbelievable coming from a bureau director charged with managing a resource whose management is supposed to be wholly based in science. The water bureau has seized an opportunity to play on unfounded fears that will help them gain public support for unnecessary and expensive reservoir burial projects.

Several public health professionals, including one from OSU have made clear statements that there really is no public health impact from 6-8 ounces of an unwanted fluid landing in 7.8 million gallons of water. From what I saw of the surveillance video (in news reports online) it looked like the water level was low, low enough that the urine would have landed on the wall, not anywhere near the water (and likely it evaporated). It is my belief that this was a non-story, and a non-public health issue made into one to suit the PR plan.

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