overview of Portland water utilities

Topics: Water quality, Water, Drinking water Pages: 6 (1458 words) Published: April 16, 2014
Overview
Combined water and sewer rates in Portland, Oregon are among the highest in the United States. A 2007 survey by Black & Veatch put Portland No. 1 on the list of 50 largest cities water and wastewater survey and No. 6 in 2010.1 A proposed five year rate increases which started in July, 2011 by the Portland Water Bureau is likely to push Portland's water bills significantly above the average for the 50 largest U.S cities. Portland's combined water and sewer bill would likely total $346 by the year 2015.2 Quarterly bills for typical residential customers have risen from $74 to $84 in July 2011 following a 13% increase by the Portland Water Bureau.3 These spiking increases are as a result of a Federal regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency effective 2014 which requires drinking water sources to be guarded against the chlorine-resistant parasite, cryptosporidium which Public Water Bureau of Portland believe to be non-existent in the pristine waters of the Bull Run. About 25 percent of the water rate increases is tied to the Environmental Protection Agency's mandates that Portland deal with cryptosporidium which the City of Portland initially contested but lost. The argument of Portland city authorities is that the city’s water which is drawn from the pristine Bull Run watershed which is pure and clean and does not need any expensive treatment to eliminate any pathogens which evidently is not present in the water.4 The EPA is however not taking any chances due to the fact that this waterborne pathogen sickened 403,000 and killed 69 in Milwaukee in 1993, but has not surfaced in any U.S. cities since that incidence.5 Despite the fact that water quality is a major component of the human right to water, these price increases threaten to put the affordability of water and sewer services higher, making it difficult for poor households which are already struggling to pay for their water and sewer bills and receive assistance from the Portland Water Bureau. Policy and Regulation

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) is the principal federal law that regulates public drinking water supplies in the U.S. SDWA authorizes the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to enforce regulations regarding water supply. The Oregon Department of Human Services - Drinking Water Program (ODHS) is the principal agency that enforces drinking water regulations in Oregon and thus responsible for monitoring the compliance records of Portland Water Bureau. The SDWA which was passed in 1974 was reauthorized and amended by Congress in 1986. The Act primarily aims to ensure high water quality standards to consumers. In 1986 another amendment to the act saw emphasis given to public access to information. Below is the list of regulations that have evolved from the SDWA Act over the years.6 Trihalomethane Rule (1981)

Total Coliform Rule (1990)
Phase II and V rules (1991, 1992) for volatile organic chemicals, synthetic organic chemicals and inorganic chemicals Lead and Copper Rule (19920
Information Collection Rule (1996)
Consumer Confidence Report Rule (1998)
Current Water Report
Disinfectants and Disinfection By-Products Rule (2002)
Radionuclide Rule (2003)
Surface Water Treatment Rule(1990)
Interim Enhance Surface Water Treatment Rule (2002)
Public Notification
Arsenic
Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (2002)
Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule (2006)
Ground water Rule (2006)
A cursory glance at the regulations shows the lopsided nature of the water regulation in the US. The regulations mainly border on water quality and standards. The Human Right to Water is rarely mentioned in water regulations in the US. The Abstinence of US to vote in the UN General Assembly resolution to pass the right to water further pushes to the back burner the advancement of water rights in the US. Availability

The availability of water in the context of the human Right to Water refers to the sufficient and...
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