Negotiations on Reservoir Disconnect

By Nancy Tannler


The community meeting about the Mt Tabor Reservoir Disconnection Project was co-hosted by Portland Water Bureau (PWB) and Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association (MTNA). It came about after Commissioner Amanda Fritz charged the MTNA to recruit a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) and for them  to schedule public meeting/feedback time during PWB’s project design phase.

Panelists from l. to r.: Stephanie Steward, John Laursen, Dawn Smallman, Paul Leistner, Tom Carter, Teresa Elliott, David Schaff and facilitator Jeanne Lawson.
Panelists from l. to r.: Stephanie Steward, John Laursen, Dawn Smallman, Paul Leistner, Tom Carter, Teresa Elliott, David Schaff and facilitator Jeanne Lawson.

A panel discussion ensued with a Q & A at the end of the meeting. Representing the PWB was David Schaff, Teresa Elliott and Tom Carter. Representing the neighborhood CAC was John Laursen, Dawn Smallman, Stephanie Steward and Paul Leistner. Mary Forst and Jeanne Lawson were the facilitators.

Commissioner Fritz opened the meeting with condolences she herself felt about the closure of the reservoirs for our drinking water.  “Moving forward,” she said, “by following the Mt Tabor Park Master Plan we will, protect the park and keep it whole.” She said that when the PWB is finished with the disconnect project Commissioner Fish will fill the reservoirs–at least once. After that it will be up to the PWB, the city and the people of Portland to decide what happens to the reservoirs.

Paul Leistner, board member MTNA, gave the opening statement for the CAC, reiterating the original statement that the closure of the reservoirs as a source for our drinking water should not have happened. It is their conviction that closing the reservoirs has been a waste of ratepayer funds, and that they will continue to seek leadership that will delay these projects.

Plus all of the research and information gathered over the years to have the park placed on the Historic Register by Cascade Anderson Geller and others shows the solidarity of the people to protect this place they love.

Because of the magnitude of the disconnect process, the CAC, all volunteers, have a big task to perform. They will have to be aware and involved in the design plans presented by the PWB but, as Stephanie Stewart states in her blog, “it is better than nothing, and we have seen some limited progress.”

The CAC presented a list of seven requests they compiled to voice the community’s values and goals for the outcome of this major change at Mt. Tabor. These guidelines are available to read and post community comment at These requests will evolve due to citizens input and will serve to keep the details in focus as they move ahead in negotiations with the PWB and Council.

Tom Carter gave the PWB presentation about the disconnect project. A brief summary is that the PWB has been directed to disconnect Tabor reservoirs from drinking-water distribution system. Replacement water storage will be at Powell and Kelly Buttes. Before the presentation the PWB had already made changes that the CAC were in favor of.

• They moved work that was in an environmental zone onto a gravel road and preserved two trees.

• They proposed to place recessed screens or grates in reservoir inlets and outlets instead of capping or blocking them.

•  They eliminated six cement “pull boxes” vaults to ground electrical conduit.

• There are ten work staging zone positioned around the park.

• No heritage trees will be affected.

Construction is proposed to start in Spring of 2015 to comply with the EPA LT2 ruling to be completed December 31, 2015. SE Lincoln Drive through the park with be closed at times for about six months.

At the end of the meeting people were given an opportunity to make comments and ask questions. Scott Fernandez, M.Sc. Biology/ microbiology, drinking water chemistry and sponsor of, said that if we stall this process long enough eventually the EPA will reverse the LT2 ruling due to scientific evidence that the fear of cryptosporidium is unfounded and  the whole project will be unnecessary.

The final plan will be presented to the people on June 11, 6:30, Warner Pacific College, 2219 Se 68th Ave. To get involved visit, www.portlandoregon.gove/water/mttabor.


Negotiations on Reservoir Disconnect

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