Monday, February 24, 2014

Tabor Reservoir Disconnect - Water source for reservoirs

With our first overview of the construction plans, we aren't seeing an adequate water supply for a water feature at the reservoirs during or after Tabor Disconnect work.  The project's narrative states very clearly: "all inlets...will be capped."  When we stated so at our neighborhood meeting on Wednesday, Feb 19, Water Bureau staffers Tom Carter and Tim Hall asserted there would be water available to the reservoirs. Meeting attendees asked me to confirm the accuracy of that assertion and the adequacy of the supply to which Carter and Hall vaguely alluded.  These are big reservoirs, and we can't just fill them with a garden hose.  So, how does Water Bureau define water?  I'm trying to get that answered, but as of today my inquiry goes completely unacknowledged (5 days and counting).  Update 4-1-14: I still cannot confirm there will be adequate water for the reservoirs post-disconnect.

Here is what I asked Teresa Elliot and Tom Carter by email at 11am on Feb 20:
  1. How will water be provided to the reservoirs during disconnect construction?
  2. How will water be provided to the reservoirs after disconnect construction?
  3. Does Water Bureau currently plan to have water in 1, 5 and 6 during disconnect construction?  If so, how much?
  4. Does Water Bureau currently plan to have water in 1, 5 and 6 after disconnect construction?  If so, how much?

Here are the answers Tom Carter sent on Feb 25: 
None of the specifics I asked for were addressed in Carter's response.  The devil is in the details, and PWB is letting us see them yet.  Here is most of Carter's email to me:

In answer to your questions, it’s necessary to drain the reservoirs and keep them empty while we are doing the proposed work. Otherwise, we’d either be working underwater or cutting open pipes full of water. 

When we are finished, the reservoirs will able to be re-filled with pipes that are connected to the water supply system (that is, water coming from Bull Run). They’ll be drained by pipes leading to the sewer system, the same as they are today. And finally, they will be cleaned by the existing wash down system pipes, which are not affected by this project. These connections will be better illustrated in our plans when we apply for the Type III Land Use Review.

The reservoirs will be able to be filled and maintained as City Council directs.

Here are my follow-up questions, seeking more details, sent on Feb 25:
Hello Tom -

Thanks for your response.  I have further questions.  
  1. Specifically, please detail the fill-rate of the remaining water source for each reservoir, and compare that to the fill-rate of the current water source for each reservoir.  This information is needed to adequately answer questions in the community.
  2. Do you have a schedule for when each reservoir will be drained during construction?  Will they all drain at once, or will they be staggered according to specific work?
  3. Do you have a schedule or goal for post-construction re-filling of the reservoirs?

UPDATE April 1: the above questions have not been acknowledged or answered by PWB staff.

Tabor Reservoir Disconnect - Trees being cut

You may have heard by now that as we comb through the Water Bureau's preliminary construction plans, we've spotted many more trees being cut than were mentioned in the publicly issued "Notice". That Notice only mentions one, 24" tree.  We count 81 trees being impacted all together, with 31 trees being cut down and 50 more trees at risk because of work done within their root zone.  You can see the index we've put together by tree number by clicking here.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Tabor Reservoir Disconnect land use cases

The paperwork for disconnecting the Mt. Tabor open reservoirs from the drinking water supply arrived on January 28, 2014 (postmarked Jan 27).  Two, complicated land use reviews are happening at once under case titles: LU 13-236792HR (this is for the Historic Resource Review) and LU 13-240530EN (this is for the Environmental Review).

Click here for the "Notice" from the city.
Click here for "Revised Notice" from 2-14-14
Click here for the plan drawings we obtained.
Click here for the Dec 2013 application narrative we obtained (this doc request took 5 days for PWB to fill).
Click here for the budget (still awaiting document request, 13 days and counting).
Click here for specific approval criteria for Historic Resources review.
Click here for specific approval criteria for Environmental review.

Public meeting
Feb 19, 7 pm:  Water Bureau did not involve our neighborhood in the process of planning this project. Our first notice came on Jan 28.  Water Bureau has done no outreach in our neighborhood regarding this project.  Volunteers with MTNA are pouring through plans and documents now, and discovering this project will indeed have significant impact on park neighbors and users.  At MTNA's regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday, Feb 19th, we will share project drawings and walk meeting attendees through the various disruptions.  Meetings are in the basement of the Mt. Tabor Presbyterian church on the corner of SE 55th and SE Belmont, from 7 - 9 pm.

Public Comment Period
While we were supposed to be given 21 days for public comments, inexplicably, we are only being given 17 days.  Only 13 of those are business days during which we can get documents from city offices, and with storm related closures our public comment period has been whittled down to just 10 business days.  Unless we succeed in our appeal for a longer public comment period, your comments are due to BDS by Friday, Feb 14, at 5:00pm.  Update 2-12-14:  Our appeal was answered by Fish and Fritz's office, we have secured an extension until March 10, 2014 (three extra weeks).  Click here to read the email correspondence for this request.

Challenging the Type II classification
We take issue with the Type II classification this case was given, and believe the facts warrant a Type III classification.  A Type III classification would require Water Bureau to more broadly distribute notice of this project (informing more neighbors) and it would involve the Historic Landmarks Commission at a sooner point in the review process (providing better oversight for this historically sensitive area).  At this point, people immediately effected by this work only know it is happening because neighborhood volunteers are doing outreach.  Update 2-17-14: Tonight we emailed an appeal to Commissioners Fish and Fritz making the case for why this project should have been given a Type III procedure.  Click here to read our argument.  We ask everyone to contact the offices of Commissioners Fritz and Fish, encouraging them to support our request for a Type III classification. Update 2-18-14: At 6pm today we heard from Commissioner Fish that this land use case will be reclassified as a Type III review = good news!  To read the Commissioner's email click here.

MTNA's official comments
MTNA's official comments will be posted here once submitted.  I will write MTNA's official comments for this case, along with a team of neighborhood stakeholders which have agreed to serve as Land Use Committee members and consultants.  They are Dawn Smallman, Kim Lakin, and Mark Bartlett.  If you have particular expertise in land use we could use your help.  We are especially in need of experts in land-use law, and historic landscaping preservation.  All Portlanders have a right to submit comments to and by March 10.

Other Important Documents: