Dr. Know: Benson Bubbler Basics

Why are the Benson Bubblers [Portland's landmark public water fountains] always running, especially when Oregon is experiencing a serious drought ? —Indra

Why do all those Benson Bubblers only release like a quarter-inch of water? Can't they ratchet up the water pressure? —Pissed Off in SW

The opportunity to socialize with political professionals is one of the perks of being a journalist. (It's pretty much the only perk—you don't wanna see the groupies you get in this line of work.)

By "socialize," of course, I mean "drink." I don't think anybody is surprised when a newspaperman can stick it away, but the two letters above, which came in within two weeks of each other, go a long way toward explaining why my mild-mannered, policy-wonk friends do such a good job of keeping up.

I'm as pro-democracy as the next guy (assuming the next guy is Mussolini), but if it were my job to appease every selfie-stick-waving voter with an ax to grind, I'd need more than just whiskey to get me out of bed in the morning.

To answer Indra's question: The Bull Run Watershed, where we get our water, isn't dependent on melting snowpack, and levels there are normal. Some parts of Oregon are indeed having a drought, but Portland isn't one of them.

Pissed Off, you should know that the fountains used to have a lustier flow, but they've been throttled back as a conservation measure, and also to appease people like Indra.

The bubblers currently use less than a thousandth of our water. Should they use more? Less?

In a perfect (or at least more entertaining) world, we could put these two letter writers in a cage and let them duke it out on pay-per-view.

As it is, bureaucrats try to steer a middle course (success in government is achieved when all parties hate you equally) and count the minutes till happy hour.

QUESTIONS? Send them to dr.know@wweek.com.

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