By Dawn Smallman
Board member John Laursen announced at our October meeting that Portland Water Bureau (PWB) has submitted the land use application that covers the work that will be done to disconnect the Mt Tabor reservoirs. There is a 3-week period when the Bureau of Development Services decides if the application is complete or not. BDS can request changes to make it complete.
The PWB is working on taking the actions the Citizen’s Action Committee (CAC) requested to minimize damage done to Mt Tabor Park’s grounds, vegetation and trees. (The CAC consists of activist members seeking the best possible solution to the planned disconnect.) Both the CAC and the MTNA remain committed to opposing the disconnection in its entirety. Both the CAC and the MTNA remain committed to protecting the park and keeping damage to a minimum if disconnection work moves forward. PWB agreed to CAC’s specific requests that will result in fewer trees cut and some restoration work on the reservoirs. Also, PWB would be obligated to document how reversal (reconnection) would happen – another result of the work done by the CAC that the PWB will honor.
Laursen said MTNA and the CAC both continue to advocate for the lowest cost option for keeping water in the reservoirs that would be periodically changed/refreshed should the reservoirs be disconnected. PWB has told CAC that PWB could not sell the land because there are PWB infrastructure/facilities within the footprints of the reservoirs.
City Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish will host public meetings Nov. 18 and Dec. 10 at Warner Pacific College to discuss the future use of the reservoirs. CAC has made it clear to the Commissioners its desire that water must remain in the reservoirs and that all future handling of the reservoirs must honor their historic designation and honor the Park’s Master Plan.
Rosemary Ott and others at the meeting expressed concerns that if the reservoirs are disconnected, more radon, the second leading cause of lung cancer, would enter homes via water through toilets, faucets and showers. Scott Fernandez said that although radon entering homes through basements can be easily vented outside, radon entering homes through water cannot be handled in a similar fashion and is instead left inside the home to decay into substances that have serious health consequences.
Ott said this should be a city-wide concern and she and others at the meeting discussed ideas for actions that would engage other neighborhood associations and educate them about the radon issue so people would have more leverage to get the city to discuss this impending health issue. A group of citizens from the meeting intend to go forth, independent of the MTNA, in an effort to make this happen.
The next MTNA meeting will be Wednesday, November 19 at 7 pm at Mt Tabor Presbyterian Church at SE 54th and Belmont, with a social time starting 6:50 pm
For more information, visit www.mttaborpdx.org.