Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Contaminated Water Samples are not limited to Open Reservoirs – Remember May 27, 2012?

All drinking water needs managing, because microbes and objects invariably appear in systems of all makes and models.  Good water managers all over the country are testing multiple parts of their water system everyday because of this basic fact.  I hope this is not a surprise to the average Portlander, but the bacteria detect that happened this week at Washington Park is not an anomaly, not for us and not for any other system in the country.  It isn’t the only detect in our system water managers have dealt with recently (although, it is the only one they’ve reported to the media) and this detect does not warrant adding a lid to the Washington Park reservoirs.   Do you remember May 27, 2012?  Let me help you …

Most people are not aware that Mt. Tabor Park hosts at least one closed water tank in addition to the large open reservoirs you readily see.  This tank features the covered reservoir “technology” the Feds insist is safer for public health.  The Feds are not able to site even one scientific study that draws such a conclusion, rather they assert anecdotally that the intrusion problems they've documented for covered tanks should be worse for open storage tanks.  The anecdotal evidence, along with mounting scientific research, actually suggests the risks are at worst equal.

On May 27, 2012, (that is just 2 months ago) someone broke into the buried tank at Mt. Tabor and dumped in a host of junk including a sealed bottle of Hydrochloric Acid.  You never heard about this did you?  Well, this is a closed tank and reporting this incident would not bolster support for a massive new expenditure, so Water Bureau didn’t report it to the media. (Heck, they didn't even report it to the State's drinking water monitoring program for like a month.  Which is, I'm pretty sure, a violation of the 24 hour rule.)   After all, a covered storage tank can’t be seen as fallible, even if that would be the most realistic opinion to take.  Reservoir 7 was drained, cleaned, and brought back online without a word to the media just as is common practice with detects and intrusions. 

Remember those bright and shiny new buried tanks we’re spending millions and millions to build at Powell Butte, because they supposedly represent the “better” technology over the reservoirs we already own at Tabor?  I wonder how impervious those have actually been.  Oh, yes, with a look at drinking water reports at Oregon Health Authority you can see that their track record is about on par with any other part of the water system = detects happen, and they don’t get reported unless you are trying to convince the public of something else.