Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Finally - Breakthrough!

Today,  the Portland Water Bureau requested an indefinite time-out on its reservoir compliance schedule approved by the EPA and the State of Oregon. Read excerpts of a letter sent by David Shaff to David Leland at the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) Drinking Water Program below.  (See Press Room for text of full letter.)

"Last Friday in a letter from Administrator Lisa Jackson, the EPA reversed its longstanding refusal to review the requirements of the federal LT2 rule as they pertain to uncovered finished drinking water reservoirs. The reversal came in response to a July 20th request from Senator Chuck Schumer to the agency.   In the letter, the EPA states:
          “...as part of the Agency’s Final Plan for Periodic Retrospective Review of Regulations, as well     as the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the Agency will review the LT2 rule. In doing so, EPA will reassess and analyze new data and information regarding occurrence, treatment, analytical methods, health effects, and risk from viruses, Giardia, and Cryptosporidium to evaluate whether there are new or additional ways to manage risk while assuring equivalent or improved public health protection.” 

"In light of this significant and unanticipated change in federal drinking water policy, the City requests an indefinite suspension in Portland’s uncovered drinking water reservoir compliance schedule during EPA’s review of the federal LT2 rule. It is critical to the City to remain in regulatory compliance with the LT2 rule during EPA’s review and it therefore seeks written approval from the Oregon Health Authority Drinking Water Program of Portland’s request for a suspension of the City’s state approved schedule."

Right on. The EPA has NO DATA on the health effects of open and/or closed reservoirs and it was foolish to establish a cookie-cutter rule that has no basis in science. Especially when the City of Portland has data showing that there is no illness related to water from our pristine source and from our uncovered reservoirs. 

While we don't agree with all elements of the The  Oregonian editorial that followed on the heels of the Water Bureau letter, we absolutely agree with the editors that:

"New York's success in getting the EPA to reconsider argues that maybe Portland's leaders could have put more muscle into winning regulatory relief, too. Ditto for the Oregon congressional delegation, which also could -- and should -- have been working harder behind the scenes." 

And we heartily endorse this sentiment: 

"Now it's time for everyone to step it up. Gone is the excuse that the EPA will never bend. Nonsense. Now, once again, Portland has the perfect opening to press its case. The delegation, the mayor and City Council must wring every advantage for Portland ratepayers from the EPA's newly open mind." 

It's high time. Let's go!

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