February 26th, 2009 5:33 pm | by Adrienne So News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP, Politics, Environment

Wouldn't You Like To Know If You're Drinking Poop?

Tags: Outdoors
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If you asked me where my drinking water came from, I imagine my response would be similar to many others: "The tap." That, or some New Age nonsense about the cycle of meltwater, et cetera. Many of us gloss over the fact that our drinking water doesn't come straight from some sparkling woodland spring and deposit itself directly into our Kleen Kanteens. It goes through a lot of treatment first. And what that treatment is, or should be, has undergone considerable debate over the years.

Students and instructors at Portland State University have put together a community forum to discuss the latest of these debates, the LT2 rule. In 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency instituted the LT2 rule in order to reduce the incidence of a nasty bug, Cryptosporidium, in drinking water. Surface water is particularly vulnerable to infection by the micro-organism, mainly because it is transmitted through human and animal fecal matter. Or, as we like to say in journo-speak, "poop."

Portland's source water, from Bull Run watershed, is far removed from human activity, including cattle. The city, which monitors the water on a monthly basis, hasn't detected Cryptosporidium since 2002. Because of this, the city has been challenging the LT2 rule, compliance with which would require the city to institute additional treatment facilities AND cover the open watershed—both very expensive and, the Water Bureau argues, unnecessary.

But is it? The students plan to address that question with a series of speakers on the science of the rule, its history and the costs of implementing the system in Portland, followed by a question and answer session. The forum will be held on Tuesday, March 3, from 6:30 pm to 8 pm in the Smith Ballroom at Portland State University. For more information, you can contact Phillip Calton, the student organizer, at phil.calton.82@gmail.com.
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