Scientist makes case for Portland’s open reservoirs

See what he told folks at this meeting of the Midway Business Association, and find out who has taken charge of this business group …

New Midway Business Association President Dr. David Day shows pizza purchased for the meeting by “Spotlight Member” Mark Whitlock, of Portland Eco Laundry, at SE 122nd Avenue and Division Street.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Meetings of the Midway Business Association (MBA) have a new format, as does the business group itself, now that it’s under the leadership of Dr. David Day D.C. of Day Chiropractic.

First, Dr. Day introduced Mark Whitlock, owner of the brand new Portland Eco Laundry, located “just around the corner” from the Grocery Outlet Bargain Market in the Division Station shopping center, SE 122nd Avenue at Division Street.

New MBA President Dr. David Day thanks Bill Dayton for his many years of dedicated service to the Midway area.

Turning to changes in leadership, Dr. Day said, “After serving as president of the Midway Business Association for many years, Bill Dayton of Pizza Baron was named president emeritus of the MBA. We all appreciate Bill’s support for this business district in the past, and we’ll appreciate his help in the future.”

Then, the 19 members and guest heard from their main speaker, Scott Fernandez, from “Bull Run Waiver”, as he began his illustrated presentation.

Drinking water expert Scott Fernandez begins his presentation regarding Portland’s water supply.

“From the Bull Run Reservoir on Mt. Hood, through to our open reservoirs, and thence to our faucets – there haven’t been any public health incidents,” Fernandez stated.

With bona fides including a Masters of Science in Biology/Microbiology degree, and as a member of both the Portland Water Quality Advisory Committee and the Portland Utility Review Board, Fernandez told why he was critical of changes planned for Portland’s drinking water supply system.

“These changes, to meet an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation requiring that water be further treated and all open reservoirs be covered, will cost Portland taxpayers close to $200 million – all to solve ‘a public health problem that does not exist’.”

Says Portland’s water is clean
Not only does tainted water not exist in Portland, “it never will, in our system,” he continued.

The concern began twenty years ago, Fernandez explained, when a levee broke in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, allowing some sewage to flow into the drinking water there.

“At that time in Milwaukee, a dozen people died. But, they didn’t die from cryptosporidium; they died from drinking partially-treated sewage for four weeks. Sewage water will make you very sick.

“But, there have been zero deaths from cryptosporidium in open water facilities; and no evidence of disease happening on a week to week, month-to-month basis,”

He said that the EPA started reviewing open reservoir regulation in 2012.

“I got involved, and went to Washington, DC, a year ago, to testify on behalf of our open reservoirs,” Fernandez said. “We have a very good public health system here with our open reservoirs; we’ve had no problems. Nobody contradicted me. There are other utilities, back East, that agree with our situation.”

Fernandez shares why he’s in favor of keeping Portland’s water a public utility.

Against unitized water agency
“We have an additional situation of which you should be aware. This is the push to establish a ‘regional storage and transmission strategy’. A decade ago, the Portland City Council was entertaining the idea that we could unite with all of the wholesale customers in the area in three counties, and form one unit – a ‘Bull Run Drinking Water’ agency.”

In 2008, Fernandez said, the Portland Utility Review Board was able to stop the plan. The commissioners in charge of such an organization, he opined, would not be financially-accountable to Portland’s citizens. “Plus, we would have lost all opportunity to have access to the decision-making process, if it became a regional entity.”

This concept isn’t dead, he added, and still might happen.

“It would eventually lead to a privatization process,” Fernandez maintained. “A corporation would then oversee the management of the combined water system, and we would have no say in what they do.”

Changes in Portland’s water supply will increase ratepayer’s monthly water bills, Fernandez.

Water costs to increase
“In March, the City of Portland put out a water bond in the amount of $161 million – that has not yet been incorporated into our water rate increases. And, the City’s Office of Finance Management is putting out another bond offering for $250 million on April 23 of this year.”

He claimed the Powell Butte Reservoir No. 2 provides overcapacity for what Portland’s water system needs now.  “We don’t need to add another reservoir like this. And, we don’t need to add one up at Kelly Butte. It may be part of their ‘bigger plan’ of regionalization.”

Fernandez pointed out that Wilsonville has contracted with Veolia to manage their water system.

“So did Indianapolis. After having Veolia manage their system, they went back to being a public system, with citizens overseeing the water system. We need to retain our own watershed ownership.”

Fernandez points out that the sodium fluoride, injected into the water supply in the City of Tualatin, is made in China – and carries health hazard warnings on the bag label.

The possibility of drinking water fluoridation was also a concern of his, Fernandez said. “It will cost $600,000 per year – plus a big ‘chunk of change’ over time.”

Showing an image of a bag of sodium fluoride, he pointed out the warning, “DANGER! POISON-TOXIC BY INGESTION. Target Organs: Heart, Kidneys, Bones, Central Nervous System, Gastrointestinal System, Teeth.”

He added, “A lot of the fluoride is coming in from China, produced the Zhuzhou Mingsheng Zinc Industry Chemical Co., Ltd., and distributed by WEGO Chemical & Mineral Corporation in New York – this is the fluoride going into the City of Tualatin water supply.”

Fernandez wrapped up his talk saying, “Bull Run water doesn’t not need to be ‘fixed’, at a cost that will double water rates. Please take a look at our website, and decide for yourself.”

Learn more at their “Bull Run Waiver.org” website: CLICK HERE. Or, see their Facebook page: CLICK HERE.

Meet with the Midway Business Association
On May 14, come learn about this business group dedicated to helping neighbors and businesses improve the southern end of outer East Portland.

This month: Sheldon Penner with Amicus Data will speak on “Effective use of technology to grow your business”.

Visitors ARE welcome and the presentation is free (but you pay for your own lunch). Their meeting runs from 11:45 AM until 1 PM at Bill Dayton’s PIZZA BARON Restaurant on SE 122nd Avenue, just south of Division St.

For more information, see their website: CLICK HERE. Also, check their new Facebook page: CLICK HERE to see it.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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