Today I was walking on Mount Tabor and noticed the color of the water in the big upper reservoir was a bright turquoise. Do they put something in it that gives it that color? —Trudy H.
That? Oh, that's just Portland's Strategic Cyanide Reserve. We're going to release it into the water supply if Donald Trump gets re-elected, as part of a citywide suicide pact.
Hopefully, everyone understands that what I just said is not true. Sometimes I worry, because—and I say this from a place of love—some of you guys can be pretty dumb. (Not you personally, of course! I mean that other guy.)
Folks who aren't natively able to evaluate what is or is not a threat have to freak out about stuff either at random, or based on simple keywords like "chemicals" or "terrorism." Either way, their panics have nothing to do with what's actually happening.
I say all this because the turquoise stuff you're seeing is, in fact, algae.
Given recent news items involving blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) releasing toxins into Salem's water supply, the worry is that some of you are going to see the world "algae" and go, "OMFG, THE MUTANT ALGAE THAT KILLED SALEM!!! OUR WATER IS POISON!!! WE'RE GONNA DIE!!!" while running in random directions, trampling each other to death.
Please do not do this. For starters, the Mount Tabor "reservoirs" haven't been part of Portland's municipal water system since 2016. At this point, they're just ornamental ponds—they could actually be full of cyanide and it wouldn't affect your drinking water.
Also, while it's true that some species of blue-green algae are toxic, plenty of others aren't—spirulina is a blue-green algae, and hippies who'd never touch Splenda eat it by the scoopful.
Right now, we don't even know if this algae is the blue-green type or not (the last algae bloom seen at Tabor wasn't). The water will be tested later this summer prefatory to the reservoir's scheduled draining and cleaning.
In the meantime, the Water Bureau has already been putting up signs and reaching out to panicky neighbors like you. It's gonna be OK, I promise. Breathe. Happy little trees.