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Rep. Ben Cannon asks state to remedy conflict in rules for covered reservoirs

powellbutte.JPGRoss William Hamilton/The Oregonian
The $138 million Powell Butte reservoir, just a big hole for now, will eventually hold 50 million gallons of drinking water on a hillside high above East Portland with mountain views.
State drinking water officials are being questioned by Portland leaders about apparent contradictions in policy that would require at least $300 million to cover city reservoirs. 

State Rep. Ben Cannon, D-Portland, is asking the Oregon Drinking Water Program why state law allows for variances from water treatment options but an administrative rule appears to prohibit it. Cannon said the “contradiction” was brought to his attention by the Portland Water Users Coalition, which has been challenging the projects and surging water rates.

“I hope you will take the appropriate steps to investigate this matter and to quickly remedy any conflict between your administrative rules and Oregon law,” Cannon wrote in a letter dated May 31.

(See live link below to read the letter:  Gail Shibley Water Quality Letter 5-31-11.doc )

The coalition two weeks ago couldn’t convince the Portland City Council to hold off approval of the $80 million Powell Butte reservoir project. That lengthy debate prompted a letter from city Commissioner Randy Leonard, in charge of the Portland Water Bureau, to state officials seeking guidance on a variance process for reservoirs.

“Given that new analysis and the continuing controversy in our community on this issue, the City Council has requested that I seek definitive guidance from the state on how an uncovered reservoir variance can be achieved by the City of Portland,” Leonard wrote. But Leonard has said the state has already told him there isn’t a process available.

The city this week applied for a different variance — not for covered reservoirs but seeking an exemption from building a $100 million ultraviolet treatment plant at the Bull Run water supply to kill cryptosporidium. That parasite can be potentially deadly but recent water testing has found none.

(Read the letter:  variance.pdf )
Go to for article and links: http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2011/06/rep_ben_cannon_asks_state_to_r.html

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