Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dear Water Bureau Blogger: Please give us substance

I'd like to see who was really writing the script for Friday's Water Bureau posts and tweets. Someone should do a public records request for the emails to and from Bott, Shaff, and Brown related to public messaging, tweets and blog posts on April 21 and 22.

Do I need my water bureau spending my money to talk about the weather and the fountains? I'd rather they tweet me everytime they hand out a new multi-million dollar contract. If Water Bureau truly wants to encourage public involvment (and not just propoganda) they can start by giving citizens the information we want... not just the information they want us to have. How about we de-fund the tweet and blog program at Water Bureau, freeing up a staff person to provide the information the community really wants access to.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Portland Water Bureau: Tweeting away your $

Gee, let's see how many ways we can try to scare people away from our great drinking water and elegant, green, inexpensive system that delivers it. What a fabulous way to waste ratepayer dollars!
Read about Portland Water Bureau escapades here in the latest Oregonian story

TV coverage of rally to protect affordable drinking water

 In many ways, it was steaming hot at the rally on Earth Day!  See KATU coverage of the scene in front of Portland City Hall here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Our Response to Water Bureau OPed in Oregonian today

There are a number of options available to the City of Portland which would provide relief from these mandates, none of which involve breaking the law.

Mr. Shaff's assertion that our choices are two--build these projects as the Water Bureau proposes or break the law--is totally specious and intended to prevent ratepayers and the City Council from understanding the true number of options at hand.

Specifically, the City Council has four options:

1. Seek a permanent waiver from these Cryptosporidium mandates, which could either be granted by Congress or the EPA itself through executive action.

2. Pursue a variance from the rule, using the 17,000 liters of testing in Bull Run and at our open drinking water reservoirs as proof that we already meet the objectives of the Cryptosporidium rule.

It is important to note that federal regulators are no longer the decision-makers on a variance from the rule, the State of Oregon has been delegated primacy for rule implementation and therefore the state will decide whether Portland is eligible for a variance. This is a critical development, as we expect the state to be much more sympathetic to Portland's unique situation than the EPA.

3. Pursue treatment at the outlet of the reservoirs as Rochester, New York has done. While Mr. Shaff is correct that this would cost much more in Portland than it did in Rochester (approximately $200 million), that is still far less than the Water Bureau is proposing to spend--$500 million. Has the Water Bureau allowed the City Council the opportunity to consider or debate an alternative compliance program that could save ratepayers $300 million? And if not, why not?

4. Seek a delayed compliance timeline as Dr. Thomas Ward, an infectious disease specialist at OHSU, has recommended the City pursue. Again, the decision on a delayed compliance time frame is not up to the EPA, it is up to the State of Oregon.

Mr. Shaff asserts that Portland must have a legal or technical basis for requesting a delay for reservoir replacement. Says who? Where is that written? He refers to Congress' original direction to the EPA in authorizing promulgation of this rule, but that has nothing to do with implementation of the rule, especially when authority for that implementation has been turned over to the State of Oregon. The Water Bureau is counting on ratepayers and the City Council to take their word for it. Don't.

Portland can seek a delay for any reason. The worst that would happen is the state refuses. We will never know unless we ask. The City Council must request a delay so as to pursue other options (listed above) and prevent a half-billion dollar waste of money at a time when Portland residents and businesses are struggling.

Kent Craford
Portland Water Users Coalition

Opinion: Oregonian publishes Portland Water Bureau response.

Read Portland Water Bureau David Shaff's Opinion piece in today's newspaper responding to our Opinion piece in the Oregonian last week. When reading his response, please keep in mind that NO ONE is advocating that we break federal law. In our next post, Kent Craford, a member of our very active coalition, responds.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Oregonian coverage of today's rally

It was a beautiful day for the rally to protect Portland's drinking water.

Click here for the story.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Great News: New Organizational Support!

Our most recent supporter:
David Lorati on behalf of the Central Eastside Industrial Council has signed on to the letter to Portland City Council.
See "What You Can Do" on right and help secure the support of your organization.

Thank you!

Rally 12-1pm Friday April 22

Gather at noon outside Portland's City Hall on Earth Day to protect our pure drinking water.
A sister group has called for the rally (click here for poster) It's important that you bring your friends and family. Send a big message to the Portland City Council, which will vote on this critical issue in May. See you there!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Read all about it: The Oregonian

Read great opinion piece in the Oregonian today by Kent Craford (Portland Large Water Users Coalition) and Kelly Campbell (Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility). Here they call on the Portland City Council to push the pause button on hugely expensive, unnecessary Water Bureau plans.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Amanda is running for re-election

Amanda Fritz has been, and continues to be, our champion on Portland City Council for matters related our water bills and unnecessary, expensive water treatment. She is the sole commissioner to date who has stated support for a time-out (as requested in Our Ask). But the tide is turning. Help us bring the Mayor and the other Commissioners along! See What You Can Do. Go Amanda!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Randy's thoughts on City Hall elections

Click here  to read Brad Schmidt's Oregonian piece today on upcoming elections.
85% rate increases and strategies for Bull Run treatment and reservoir construction are sure to play key role in this and other campaigns.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

More Great News: New Organizational Support!

Our most recent supporters:

Sandra McDonough for Portland Business Alliance
Andrew Frazier for Portland Small Business Advisory Council
Jason Williams for Taxpayers Association of Oregon

See "What You Can Do" on right and help secure the support of your organization.
Thank you!

The Oregonian covers polling results

Click here to read the latest on polling results regarding Portland Water Bureau.  Story by Brad Schmidt.

Lars on Water Bureau rates today

Kent Craford, representing the Portland Water Users Coalition, joins Lars today at 1:20 pm.
Listen at KXL AM 750

Good News: New Community Support!

Our most recent supporter:
Peter Stark on behalf of Hillside Neighborhood Association.
See "What You Can Do" on right and help secure the support of your organization.

Thank you!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Jack's take on Randy's change of course on $45 million billing system

Take a gander...

Phony Story of the Month

Here's a bogus plot that the local daily newspaper swallows hook, line, and sinker: The staff at the Portland Water Bureau wants to spend millions on fancy new water meters, but Fireman Randy is turning them down because he's a careful custodian of the public's money.
What a joke.
No one who works in any office run by the Fireman ever has the nerve to disagree with him -- if they know what's good for them. And he'll spend bureau money on whatever he darn well pleases.
It's an interesting set-up, but anyone who buys it deserves to live in a place run by Fireman Randy.

City Commissioner Randy Leonard changes course on proposed $45 million billing system

Water Bureau staff are now taking the fall for Commissioner Leonard and his budget which was proposed to City Council in March.  But that's OK.  Click here for article by Brad Schmidt, The Oregonian

Friday, April 8, 2011

Tomorrow! Visit and learn about Sandy Basin River Restoration

The Bull Run Watershed is located within the greater Sandy River Watershed.
A great, educational forum complete with workshops and field trips awaits you tomorrow.
While oriented towards Sandy Basin landowners, this event is free and open to all.
Check it out here.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Good News! New Organizational Support

Our most recent supporter:
TJ Reilly on behalf of Oregon Small Business Association
See "What You Can Do" on right and help secure the support of your organization.

Thank you!

KGW on Saltzman proposal for independent rate review for utilities

Click here for tonight's story.  Dan Saltzman wants it. Randy Leonard doesn't want it. Sam Adams says he thought of it first (years ago).

4.07.2011 The Oregonian; Brad Schmidt. "Portland Mayor Sam Adams Drops Plan to Use Water and Sewer Money for College Scholarships

Portland Mayor Sam Adams on Wednesday ditched a controversial plan to tap water and sewer money to pay for community college scholarships.

Adams first proposed the strategy a year ago and hoped to implement it this week. But growing public skepticism over how water and sewer money is used, and uncertainty among Portland City Council members threatened to postpone approval of the program.

Instead, Adams opted to pay for the program exclusively from the city's discretionary general fund.

"It's important to me that we move this project forward," Adams said before the council unanimously approved the program. "I don't want the debate -- which I think is also important -- about funding sources to cloud or slow down our effort to get scholarships out to up to  200 applicants."

See PRESS ROOM for full story

Portland Mayor Sam Adams drops plan to use water and sewer money for college scholarships

Portland water bureau's expanded mission under Randy Leonard isn't his fault alone

Published: Tuesday, April 05, 2011, 4:30 PM
As a new city audit suggests, the amount of mission creep in the Portland Water Bureau has reached the level of malpractice, if not quite malfeasance.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

IF you missed yesterday's Think Out Loud

Go to this page for OPB's April 4, 2011 show on Portland water and rates.  When you arrive at the page, click on the small arrow (as seen below) to hear the show.

Portland Water Bureau

AIR DATE: Monday, April 4th 2011

Today's Oregonian Editorial

Keeping an eye on Water Bureau spending, accountabilitiy and transparency.
Click here to read the printed editorial.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Good News! New Organizational Support

Jon Isaacs, on behalf of Oregon League of Conservation Voters, has signed the letter to City Council.
See "What You Can Do" on right and help secure the support of your organization.

KATU on water rate increases

Check out the video that ran last week on KATU regarding the rate increases.  The biggest "non-mission critical" ticket items are referenced only at the end: Bull Run treatment ($100 million building costs) and reservoir work ($400 million in building costs). And remember... the price of debt service will double these costs.

Thank you!

Big thanks to Kent Craford and to everyone who posted and called in to Think Out Loud this morning.
You can read the online comments here.  Just scroll down.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Think Out Loud on Monday and be heard

On Monday, April 4, 2011, Oregon Public Broadcasting's 9 AM radio show Think Out Loud with host Emily Harris will talk about Portland's water and discontent over rising water rates.  This show will discuss expensive, unnecessary LT2 projects.  Call in to the show or email comments before and during the show and be heard.

call-in phone number:
888-665-5TOL (or 665-5865)

general Think Out Loud staff email address:
thinkoutloud ((at))

A direct appeal to Portland City Commissioners and Mayor Adams, March 2011

During recent years, extensive and expensive tests performed in Bull Run and at
our in-town reservoirs demonstrated scientifically what we have all suspected for
years, the lack of Cryptosporidium in our water. We also now know that costs for
meeting current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) compliance timelines
for construction of new water storage and treatment are extremely high and
come at a time when Portland ratepayers are particularly economically
vulnerable. As stated multiple times by multiple public health officials, there will
be no measurable public health benefit derived from expensive new treatment
and storage currently required by the EPA. We can now prove it, and given that
proof, we are asking for you to change the City’s policy on the LT2 projects.

Now, with new EPA information in hand, we submit the following
recommendations for your timely consideration. Without strong and immediate
action on your part, steep water rate increases will likely force families to leave
their homes and force businesses to leave Portland, increasing the financial
burden on remaining ratepayers while degrading our quality of life.

We ask you to please:

1) Direct the Water Bureau to work with the federal congressional delegation to
secure from the EPA immediate postponement or deferral of both LT2
compliance timelines.

2) Revise and expand the timeline for new water storage construction and direct

the Water Bureau to cease all ground-breaking construction activities related to
LT2 at least during the next fiscal year.

3) Modify the Water Bureau budget, decreasing the investment in LT2- related
capital improvement projects next year and significantly decreasing the
proposed 2011-2012 water rate increase, now projected to be 13.9%.

4) Support submittal of a variance application for in-town reservoirs, based on
the water quality findings of the 2010 American Water Works Association
Research Foundation study (Project 3021). Request that the Drinking Water
Program of the Oregon Health Authority, having assumed primacy for
implementation of the LT2 rule, grant a “clean water variance” for Bull Run
treatment and treatment of finished water in protected in-town reservoirs. Based
on the City of New York’s legal opinion and other research, a variance for open
reservoirs from LT2 covering mandates is authorized under the Safe Drinking
Water Act. It can be granted by the State as it has elected primacy over the
same. It is within Portland’s right to pursue such a variance. Should such an
application be refused, the EPA and/or the State would have to provide a basis
for that decision, and that justification would be subject to legal challenge which
Portland would prevail on.

5) Engage our federal congressional delegation in long-term work to secure
permanent regulatory compliance through a legislative remedy. Such a remedy
is now more likely given the new 112th Congress and continuing economic
challenges faced by the nation as a whole.

Today we have a historic opportunity to restore rationality to public health
decisions, and responsibility to our budgetary process. Thank you for your
efforts thus far and thank you in advance for your further work.

Bull Run Watershed