Should Portland's water reservoirs be covered?
PORTLAND, Ore. – This past weekend's E.coli scare sharpened debate Tuesday at an already-scheduled discussion by city leaders about covering Portland's open-air water supply.
A boil water notice this past weekend lasted less than 24 hours, but affected about 130,000 customers on Portland’s west side, and in other water districts supplied by Portland.
Two consecutive tests showed low levels of E. coli, and although that health officials say it posed little threat to humans, the incident colored the work session involving city commissioners and Portland Water Bureau director David Shaff.
City Commissioner Randy Leonard, who oversees the water bureau, said the city can no longer ignore federal regulations requiring an end to uncovered water storage by 2020.
“I have never thought it was a good idea to have open reservoirs and the events of last weekend are just an example of that, not just because it potentially sickens people if they were to drink water that something poops in, but the cost to the businesses,” said Leonard.
Commissioner Amanda Fritz remained in favor of the city trying harder to seek delays in the construction timeline, and considering other options to lower the estimated $300 million cost of the project.
“Clearly we have to comply with federal regulations but we have an obligation to our ratepayers that we do it in the most cost-effective manner,” said Fritz.
No decisions were made on Tuesday.