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|Articles - December 2010|
|Wednesday, November 17, 2010|
Spiking water rates in Portland over the past three years have caused increasing concern among the many water-intensive businesses in the city. Rates have increased 43.4% in the past three years and will more than double in the next five. For instance, Portland’s top 2009 commercial water user, silicon-wafer maker Siltronic, could see fees increase by roughly $2 million in the next five years.
The Portland Water Bureau (PWB) started initial stages of construction of covered reservoirs at Kelly Butte and Powell Butte in the fall of 2009 and is shuttering others to meet EPA regulations banning open-water reservoirs. The five-year project will cost the city around $400 million, and PWB customers — 10% to 15% of whom are businesses — will bear much of that cost. Water rates, which are the same for consumers and businesses, will increase on average by 12% next June and by roughly 13% each subsequent fiscal year until 2015. In contrast, water rates increased by 12.4% between 1994 and 1999.
“We know its money out of their pockets; we have to be mindful of that when maintaining [an old] system and complying with EPA regulations,” says PWB spokesman Jimmy Brown.
There is some controversy around the fact that the Portland City Council has on many occasions appropriated PWB revenue for non-water unrelated projects. For example, over the past decade more than $15 million of PWB’s revenue was spent on MAX and streetcar projects.
“We don’t mind paying for the [water] service, but when it gets diverted to other systems … it’s no good,” says Alan Sprott, a vice president at marine ship services company Vigor Industrial in Portland. Last March, the Portland Utility Review Board unanimously voted for more checks and balances on the council’s ability to reallocate PWB money. The review board also plans to reduce PWB’s controllable costs by 15% over the next five years.
Some large water-using businesses are being proactive about the cost of water. Oregon Health & Science University was the fourth-largest consumer of water in the city in 2009 and has created conservation programs to reduce consumption. “We’ve seen a 30% decrease of water use in the past 20 years,” says Roger Cole, OHSU’s manager of sustainable operations. In 2006, OHSU constructed two buildings that met LEED standards in sustainability. “It’s a win-win, economically and environmentally,” Cole says.
Friday, August 22, 2014
BY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
When business intersects with family, a host of situations can arise. Without a clear vision and careful planning, hard-earned investments can become stressful burdens.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY KIM MOORE
The ubiquitous fast-food restaurant may be on the decline.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY DEBRA RINGOLD | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
Why has six years become an acceptable investment in public undergraduate education that over-promises and underperforms?
Thursday, July 31, 2014
BY MARY SPILDE | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
Faced with the aftermath of the “great recession,” increasing concern about the environment and dwindling family wage jobs, we have some very important choices to make about our future.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY VIVIAN MCINERNY
Craft beer comes to Mount Angel.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN
Agriculture businesses ramp up to meet international demand as workforce and succession challenges loom.
Wednesday, August 06, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
Portland startup Green Endeavor strikes gold, inking a partnership with Underwriters Laboratories, an Illinois-based consulting and certification company with offices in 46 countries.
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