EPA view of Bull Run off base

by: L.E. BASKOW, The EPA is poised to impose new rules on Portland’s water system that critics feel wrongly apply to the city’s unique watershed and system of open reservoirs.

In the article, 'How safe is city's water?' (July 3), the Environmental Protection Agency's Mike Gearheard says that Portland hasn't tested its Bull Run source water enough.

Portland tests Bull Run monthly using the precise method and quantity prescribed by the EPA for all large systems.

It's important to note that not all cryptosporidium is infectious to humans. EPA sampling methods are not capable of determining whether any cryptosporidium detected is a genotype infectious to humans or even if the organism is alive - and the tests are subject to false positives.

The public also should know that, worldwide, all cryptosporidium outbreaks have occurred in filtered systems where human or bovine sewage is present in the watersheds. The EPA has not documented a single case of an outbreak from an open reservoir. In a 20-page 2002 report titled 'Finished Water Storage Facilities,' the EPA details numerous contamination problems involving such closed or covered reservoirs.

The irony is that the new EPA rule does not require any action upfront from any of these filtered systems that have had actual cryptosporidium outbreaks, nor has it promulgated any rule requiring action that addresses the public health problems documented with covered or buried reservoirs. Small systems are exempt from EPA's rule.

In the past several years, two city-selected panels have examined all related concerns. Despite the fact that a highly paid, cozy consultant ran the Bull Run panel and an equally highly paid EPA cryptosporidium consultant ran the panel regarding the open reservoirs, they were not able to persuade these panels that additional Bull Run treatment or burial of the reservoirs was necessary.

Since that time, community stakeholders have assisted the city in gathering and analyzing the entire EPA cryptosporidium record and have found nothing convincing.

Watershed protection, good operations and maintenance practices protect water supplies.

Floy Jones

Co-founder, Friends of the Reservoirs

Southeast Portland

Solution seems asrisky as problem

Admittedly, there may be cryptosporidium in our water system ('How safe is city's water?', July 3). If there is, it poses a risk to the health of those who consume Portland's water.

What's the proposed solution to reduce this risk factor? Treat our water by irradiating it with powerful UV light to kill cryptosporidium and other organisms. Is this solution risk- free? No, it's not.

The bulbs used to generate the UV electromagnetic radiation contain mercury and can break under normal operating conditions - potentially introducing mercury into the water we consume. That also poses a risk to human health.

So will our water be 'safer' after we install the EPA-prescribed treatment technology? No, we've merely exchanged one risk for another, and at considerably greater expense.

Frank Ray


Sign would make bike trailer safer

I loved the article about the use of bicycle trailers (Downwardly mobile, June 26). Even more interesting, I saw a double setup on a downwardly mobile bicycle parked along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and the fellow didn't even have a 'long load' sign on it. Should he have?

Ed Hausafus

Eagle Creek

How about tunnel tubes for I-5 crossing?

A new Columbia bridge, yes, but we need an additional bridge rather than replacing the existing bridge and additional lanes rather than replacing lanes.

I have seen no mention of tunnel-type tubes as have been used elsewhere - too logical?

Carl Ronson

Happy Valley