Closed reservoirs mean ending duck waste in drinking water

How do Portland’s drinking water rates stack up? Take a look at this story, and see. Also learn more about why the Portland Water Bureau is closing open reservoirs, and building new, closed tanks …

Midway Business Association President Dr. David Day of Day Chiropractic welcomes attendees to the group’s October meeting.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
At the October 8 Midway Business Association (MBA) meeting in outer East Portland, members and guests learned more about the issues with which the Portland Water Bureau (PWB) is grappling.

The twenty business and community leaders gathered in the Pizza Baron meeting room for a presentation given by PWB Senior Public Outreach Coordinator Tim Hall.

Groups such as “Portlanders for Water Reform” and industry high-volume users grumble that the City’s water rates have risen out of hand.

PWB Senior Public Outreach Coordinator Tim Hall begins his presentation.

“In Portland, you get two gallons for a penny,” Hall stated. “If you go home and take a look at your water bill, it is considered right about in the middle and the rest west coast region. Seattle’s rates are very high; even the City of Tualatin’s water rates are higher.”

Shutting down open water reservoirs

The federal government has mandated that the City of Portland no longer use open reservoirs to store drinking water, Hall said. “Believe it or not, federal health officials have been after the City close these [open] reservoirs for more than 40 years.

“In answer to that mandate, in 2009, the PWB began projects to change the way we store our drinking water – beginning with the construction of a second Powell Butte Reservoir in September 2009.”

 > Read the latest story about this project, and get a last look inside before it was sealed up: CLICK HERE.

Tim Hall points out features of the Kelly Butte Reservoir, now under construction.

“Also, we have a 25 million gallon underground reservoir under construction on Kelly Butte, off SE Powell Boulevard at 99th Avenue, to replace the 10 million gallon steel above-ground tank that was built in 1969.”

> Read about the early construction of the Kelly Butte Reservoir, and see the pipes being put in place: CLICK HERE.

Keeping drinking water in closed reservoirs does have several benefits, Tim Hall says.

Holding drinking water in open reservoirs is problematic, Hall said. “One reason is, they’re ‘duck pond’s. Folks, I kid you not, some people believe that it’s okay to have ducks swimming, ‘doing what they do’, in the water that comes out of your tap.”

All kinds of city-dwelling animals seek out water and potentially contaminate it, he added. “And, some humans intentionally foul the water.”

It takes a lot of disinfectant – and even then, sometimes it’s not totally effective – to keep the water safe to drink he said.

“When folks say the sunlight is a better disinfectant than chlorine, this is not completely true. Sunlight only penetrates a few feet of water. In a deep pool, you’re not getting much ‘disinfection’ from the sun.”

PWB’s Tim Hall points out features of the new Powell Butte Reservoir #2.

As it leaves the Bull Run Watershed reservoirs, PWB injects chlorine into the water, Hall went on. “Then, we have to [chlorinate] it again as it leaves Mount Tabor and again the Washington Park reservoirs, because they are open facilities.  What this means is you’re getting more of the chlorine taste and smell in the drinking water. Once all the system is covered, you’ll notice that that smell will diminish.”

Covered reservoirs, Hall explained, keep water cooler, lowering incidences of coliform bacteria and algae growth.

“Finally, the new reservoirs are engineered to last 150 years. The old reservoirs were designed to last about a hundred years – and we’re now 20 years past that point. They’re really starting to show their age and starting to come apart, making it a challenge to maintain a system that is over a hundred years old.”

The Midway Business Association next meets on November 12
This month: Oregon State District 48 Representative Jeff Reardon (D) will hold a question and answer session with members and guests to learn more about the needs of the area.

Visitors ARE welcome, and the presentation is free (but you pay for your own lunch). Their meeting runs from 11:45 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. at Bill Dayton’s PIZZA BARON Restaurant on SE 122nd Avenue, just south of Division Street. For more information, see their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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