The City of Portland is debating what, if anything, to do about their already high and rising public water water supply costs. While it is true that Portlanders pay more for their water than most major cities, even Phoenix, Arizona, that proponents of cost reductions use this as evidence in favor of making water more affordable only shows their lack of understanding of the issue. Portland water is more expensive than Phoenix because of bad water policy in Phoenix, not exorbitant prices in Portland. Arizona has a long history of devaluing water even as it becomes more and more scarce. Arizonans use water that is shuttled through the desert for hundreds of miles in open-air aqueducts that allow more than fifty percent of the water to evaporate before reaching its destination. Once it arrives in Phoenix it is used in misters, to water lawns that should never live in the desert, and to wash cars, but not for drinking. Arizona, like much of the rest of the country has terrible tasting drinking water.
Portland is different. Even though we live in one of the few areas of the world that has a water surplus (in non-drought years) Oregonians have implemented good policies around water quality. We have a pristine and well protected natural water source, and we just pent over a billion dollars for a much needed upgrade to our sewage system that will prevent raw sewage from leaking into the Willamette river every time it rains. The tap water in Portland tastes great.
That a city that prides itself on it's environmental image does not understand that good clean water is both important and expensive bewilders me. We chose to upgrade our sewer system, and now we have to pay for it, which we should, if for no other reason than to remind ourselves how very important this resource is. Call or email a Portland City Council member or County Commissioner or the Mayor today and tell them that the best things in life are never free. Good water is worth it.