July 28th, 2009 | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, City Hall, Politics, Business, Environment

They're Not The Widmers. But They Oppose LT2, Too.

Bull Run

The Widmer Brothers are not the only businessmen in Portland criticizing a rule from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that will require costly upgrades to Portland's drinking-water system.

Some of the city's commercial launderers -- the businesses that clean the tablecloths, napkins, hotel-room sheets, uniforms, bath towels and bar towels that Portlanders and their visitors use daily -- are also upset about LT2. That's the EPA rule that City Council will discuss Wednesday morning as part of its consideration of a resolution to begin plans on a filtration plant that will keep Portland in compliance with federal drinking-water guidelines.

Dan Bourbonais, general manager of Alsco-American Linen in Portland, says his chief concern is cost. His company uses 1.8 million to 2 million gallons of water a month at a cost of $30,000 (including sewer service) and he doesn't want to see Portland's water rates continue to climb. For one thing, the restaurants that depend on his services are already facing increased costs elsewhere.

Bourbonais has joined several other businesses and environmental groups in signing a letter [PDF] to City Council opposing the plan.

We'll see tomorrow what effect it has. Wednesday's debate is likely to rehash a lot of the same topics from 2002, when a citizen's taskforce recommended a filtration plant like the one now under consideration again and business leaders lashed out at city officials because of cost. "Frankly, in a city that is trying to speak to being more business friendly, this approach is the exact opposite," Fred Sawyers, manager of the Hilton Portland and Executive Tower, said in December 2002, according to The Oregonian. "Why is it we feel we need to go out and buy this Cadillac?"

Photo from the Portland Water Bureau
 
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