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Measure To Reorganize Water And Sewer Control Coming To May Ballot

Mt. Tabor Reservoir

Mt. Tabor Reservoir

Michael Clapp/OPB

Elections officials say enough signatures have been gathered to include a water board ballot measure in Portland’s May election.

Portlanders will vote May 20 whether to create a new, independently elected board, that would take control of water and sewer issues from City Hall.

The petition was filed by the co-founder of the grassroots group Friends of the Reservoirs Floy Jones, and former lobbyist Kent Craford.

“We’re very pleased that the initiative has qualified for the ballot,” said Craford. “And we’re ready to get our message out to Portlanders that we’ve got a historic opportunity to reform this dysfunctional utility.”

The city water bureau has seen several controversies over recent years, including: the construction of the Water House - a demonstration project that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars; the renovation of the Rose Festival headquarters with water bureau funds; and the proposed capping of city reservoirs.

Ballot measure opponent, Bob Sallinger calls the ballot measure a corporate take-over of the utility, saying it’s funded largely by big local water users.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated an incorrect date for the May primary election.

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