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Subject:  Re: Water! Date:  10/6/2012  1:51 PM
Author:  fleg9bo Number:  122445 of 137290

Portland dodged a bullet in terms of soaring water bills a couple of years ago. This article explains the situation it faced:

Portland water ratepayers to pay up to $500 million to prevent a rare drinking water threat

In spring 1993, hordes of microscopic cryptosporidium parasites traveled undetected from Lake Michigan through a drinking water filtration plant in Milwaukee and into the guts of the city's residents. At least 69 people died. An estimated 403,000 people came down with cryptosporidiosis, a severe stomach illness spawned by the chlorine-resistant parasite.

Congress leapt to action. It ordered the EPA to require the most stringent feasible treatment to thwart the microbe, as a federal appellate court later said when rejecting a 2006 lawsuit by the city of Portland, "regardless of its own or the public's views about whether the benefits justify the costs."

Eighteen years later and 1,700 miles west of Lake Michigan, the strict rules are slated to hit Portland and its relatively pristine water system full force.

For a long time the EPA wouldn't even allow Portland to test its own water for cryptosporidium. And its own field office wouldn't do it, either. It took one of OR's senators pushing hard to get a top EPA official out here to view the watershed from a helicopter. After that, OR's health department was allowed to test the water, to reveal an absence of cryptosporidium. The watershed is a federal forest where no human or agricultural activity takes place, thus keeping the water pure, but Portland almost got nailed by the one-size-fits-all mentality of the federal government.

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