PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — The Oregon Health Authority gave Portland an additional two months to decide how to fight a potentially deadly parasite in the Bull Run watershed Tuesday evening.
A 90-day extension had been requested by Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Nick Fish, who is in charge of the Portland Water Bureau. It was granted the day before the City Council was scheduled to vote on a treatment option for Cryptosporidium that could cost up to $500 million.
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“The Oregon Health Authority has granted the Portland Water Bureau a 60-day extension of the deadlines in the Cryptosporidium treatment variance revocation order. The Bureau had requested a 90-day extension. The OHA and the PWB agree that the treatment options are well understood, and OHA is confident the PWB can meet the Cryptosporidium treatment planning requirements spelled out in the revocation order by the new deadline (Oct. 11, 2017). OHA also has encouraged PWB to continue its community engagement efforts to share its plan and the costs involved,” OHA Lead Communications Officer Jonathan Modie said in an email to the Portland Tribune Tuesday evening.
The Aug. 2 council hearing will take place as scheduled anyway.
“This would give us more time to consult with our citizens, stakeholders and independent advisory organizations,” Fish said of the extension request, sent to the OHA on Monday, Aug. 1, referring to the Portland Utility Board and Citizens Utility Board. Both advise the council on rate-related utility issues and have criticized the short deadline.
The council is reviewing two options for fighting crypto, as the parasite in commonly called. One is ultraviolet light and the other is filtration. A UV plant would cost $105 million and take five years to build. A filtration plant would cost between $350 million and $500 million and take 10 to 12 years to complete. Both would require water rates to be raised to pay construction costs, with the filtration plant costing significantly more.