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The Final Word On Portland's Open Reservoirs?

A years-long conflict over Portland’s open reservoirs may finally be over. The city of Portland received a letter from the Environmental Protection Agency indicating that federal rules forbid the city from using open reservoirs for finished drinking water.

It says there is no variance option for that rule.

Officials at the Portland Water Bureau had already given up hope on getting help through Congress.

Now, bureau officials say the EPA letter effectively ends the city’s effort to keep open reservoirs on Mount Tabor and in Washington Park in operation.

David Shaff is the bureau administrator.

David Shaff: “We were on a parallel path to compliance – the variance and building. And now that one path has been blocked, just as the legislative path has been blocked. And the only path remaining to us for compliance is to build.”

The city is already in the planning and early construction phases of new reservoir storage in other parts of the city with a price tag in the tens of millions.

Portland is pursuing a variance, after consulting with EPA, to avoid building a treatment plant east of Portland, in the Bull Run watershed.

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