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Drinking water? We've got it covered.

Byline: Susan Palmer The Register-Guard

The Eugene Water and Electric Board can enjoy a few moments of superiority while news of a Portland resident relieving himself into a drinking water reservoir continues to make headlines.

On Thursday, even newspapers in Great Britain had picked up the story of the Portland Water Bureau's decision to drain its 7.8 million gallon open Mount Tabor reser voir after a camera caught an image of a man urinating into it early Wednesday.

While such a small amount of urine poses no health risk to those who might drink the water, bureau officials emptied it anyway, at an expected cost of about $36,000, according to news reports.

We don't have to worry about that possibility here, and not only because Eugene residents "are too smart to pee in their drinking water," EWEB spokesman Joe Harwood said.

EWEB, a publicly owned utility celebrating its centennial this year, doesn't allow the opportunity. All 27 of EWEB's reservoirs, which collectively hold 98 million gallons, are capped in order to keep them contaminant-free, Harwood said.

The Portland Water Bureau has been under pressure for years from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to cover its open reservoirs. According to the bureau's website, it will be spending millions in coming years to comply with that federal clean water mandate.

EWEB, on the other hand, has been so concerned about water quality that it once tried to fence off the top of its College Hill reservoir, concerned that contaminants might get into the water through the expansion cracks in the concrete, Harwood said.

For decades, the top of that reservoir has been a popular community gathering spot where people come to stargaze, sunbathe, shoot hoops and otherwise hang out.

That fencing effort failed because of intense community lobbying. EWEB eventually opted to keep the reservoir open while protecting the expansion cracks with special covers.

The utility's other covered reservoirs all are fenced, Harwood said.
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Title Annotation:Local News; Eugene's 27 reservoirs all are capped to prevent contamination
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jun 17, 2011
Words:325
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