A years-long battle with the feds
[PDF] over Portland's drinking water crosses another threshold next week as City Council considers how it will respond to the totally sexy-sounding "Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule" from the Environmental Protection Agency.
First, some background:
Last year, the U.S. District Court of Appeals rejected a plea from Portland leaders
to deem parts of the EPA rule unnecessary. The city is now seeking a variance from the feds, but the process will take until at least September 2010. (Much more information is available here.
In the meantime:
The city needs to move forward as if it won't get the variance. And that means it needs to consider how it will treat its water. Two options include a $385 million filtration system or a $100 million UV system.
Enter Portland brewers, stage left:
Kurt and Rob Widmer of Widmer Brothers Brewing are among the critics of LT2
who think the rule is unnecessary. And on Monday the brothers wrote
[PDF] to Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who used to oversee the Water Bureau before Commissioner Randy Leonard took over, to voice their concerns. [One note on their letter: The Widmers say they hope Congress can offer a fix, but U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) has already told Portland that is highly unlikely, according to David Shaff, the water bureau's director.]
"We expect to use 40 million gallons of pure clean Bull Run water this year, and to pay $100,000 for the water alone," the brothers wrote. "The proposed cost increases would double this annual cost over the next five years. ... However, our strongest argument in opposition
is that this proposed treatment system will -- completely unnecessarily in our opinion -- change the beer that has made Portland famous."
Image of Kurt Widmer by Andrew Williams.