Portland's decision last week to negotiate more favorable terms with suburban communities that buy water from the city is a victory for all.

Portland now says it will offer suburban customers, such as Tualatin Valley Water District and the city of Tigard, 10-year contracts at rates lower than it charges today and lower than what had been proposed for the future.

The decision is a wise one for many reasons. Portland water customers benefit. Although Portland may lose about $1 million a year from what it currently collects from suburban customers, the city will retain about $15 million in annual revenue for the next decade or more. Without it, city officials have warned, Portland customers soon would pay more.

Portland's offer will give the region time to evaluate long-term sources of fairly priced drinking water.

It won't be easy. By 2050, suburban water usage is expected to double.

But remember, until then, it will take just one natural or man-made disaster to significantly compromise the region's main source of water Ñ Portland's Bull Run system. Any disruption to Bull Run would throw local communities into chaos.

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