Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Crime Math Stats Science

Why Portland Should Have Kept Its Water, Urine and All 332

Posted by timothy
from the except-for-homeopathy dept.
Ars Technica has nothing good to say about the scientific understanding (or at least public understanding) that led Portland to drain 38 million gallons of water after a teenage prankster urinated into the city's water supply. Maybe SCADA systems shouldn't be quite as high on the list of dangers, when major utilities can be quite this brittle even without a high-skill attack.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Why Portland Should Have Kept Its Water, Urine and All

Comments Filter:
  • by HornWumpus (783565) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @04:19PM (#46801341)

    Every glass of tap water in LA contains a few molecules of water that have, relatively recently, passed through my bladder.

    The only people that don't have someone 'upriver', drink cattle urine instead.

    One exception, well water, usually nasty tasting. Plus the joys of insufficient septic system setback.

  • by Arker (91948) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @04:28PM (#46801387) Homepage
    "The uncomfortable truth is that all the water has pee in it."

    Water is filthy, fish have sex in it.

  • Re:The fuck?! (Score:5, Informative)

    by cascadingstylesheet (140919) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @04:35PM (#46801425)

    David Shaff obviously has a thing for watersports. It takes a Republican level of personal denial to drain 38 million gallons just to avoid drinking a little bit of pee.

    Mr. Shaff began working for the City in 1978. He worked for the first 25 years in the Bureau of Human Resources, primarily in Labor Relations. While working in Labor Relations, Mr. Shaff was responsible for negotiating each of the City's collective bargaining agreements multiple times and ended his tenure there as the City's Labor Relations Manager in 2003.

    Funny; sounds more like a "Progressive" ...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 20, 2014 @04:37PM (#46801443)

    Discussed to death on Bruce Schneier's blog. [schneier.com] Long story short: The draining is part of a political fight between two groups who want to control and monetize the water supply. All in a city of nuts who, in this day and age, drink untreated water direct from uncovered reservoirs and streams. A lot of things to worry and wonder about there...

  • by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe AT jwsmythe DOT com> on Sunday April 20, 2014 @05:22PM (#46801695) Homepage Journal

    1,505,144.03 cubic cubits. 57.575 nominal volume "Olympic size" swimming pools. 4,750,000 bushels. 25,313,380 imperial pints. 0.00000000000020300 Pacific Oceans. I hope that clarifies things. :)

  • by mbone (558574) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @05:32PM (#46801745)

    Ah, astroturf [waterreform.org]. That makes things a lot clearer [oregonlive.com].

    The biggest user of water in Portland is also the largest financial backer of a May ballot measure to strip utility rate-setting responsibility from the Portland City Council.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 20, 2014 @05:57PM (#46801871)

    Fish crap in their drink along with frogs, birds and who knows what else. They have water treatment plants to make it drinkable, how the fuck do these morons get into such high positions?

    We don't filter the water. We have an EPA waiver not to have to filter our water. Only one in the country, since the water up in the Bull Run Watershed is so pristine (no human activity allowed in the entire watershed area, over a hundred square miles, 1/3 of the water is supplied by dew drip off of fir trees). Our water comes from the source much cleaner than would come out of the filtration systems used in other cities.

  • by Solandri (704621) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @07:14PM (#46802213)

    We don't filter the water. We have an EPA waiver not to have to filter our water. Only one in the country, since the water up in the Bull Run Watershed is so pristine (no human activity allowed in the entire watershed area, over a hundred square miles, 1/3 of the water is supplied by dew drip off of fir trees).

    That doesn't change the fact that fish, birds, frogs, etc crap in the water. This whole thing is the same reason a lot of people believe in homeopathy - the idea that extremely diluted quantities of a beneficial substance still carry the same benefits. Homeopathy is basically the converse of the disgust reaction we have to inconsequentially miniscule contamination - the idea that extremely diluted quantities of a harmful substance still carry the same harm. The ISS has one of the most sophisticated water reclamation systems ever made, whose filtration provides cleaner water than what you get out of the tap. But people are still "grossed out" over the fact that astronauts are effectively drinking their own pee. Out of sight, out of mind.

    The environment is dirty, and our bodies are fully capable of surviving with that dirt. This incessant demand for absolute cleanliness is probably the cause of the rapid increase in allergy rates. The prevailing theory is that allergies are result of over-cleanliness. Our immune systems are supposed to gradually build up resistance and tolerance to all sorts of pathogens and contaminants. But our modern, ultra-clean standard of living deprives our immune systems of gradual exposure to those substances. Then when we encounter it for the first time, our body goes nuts and overreacts, causing an allergic reaction.

    Our water comes from the source much cleaner than would come out of the filtration systems used in other cities.

    The cleanest water you can get is distilled. You slowly raise the temperature to boil off contaminants with a boiling point lower than water. At the boiling point of water you're getting pure H2O. The residual is everything with a boiling point higher than water. While it's absolutely clean, it's actually bad for you because it lacks minerals and salts your body needs, and the lack of dissolved content means metal from the pipes carrying it leech into it at an accelerated rate. So it's instead packaged in plastic or glass bottles and sold in stores. Rainwater is effectively distilled, except it picks up a lot of contaminants as it floats through the air, then falls down to the ground.

    The next cleanest you can get is reverse osmosis filtered. The pores in the filters are so small that nearly all contaminants are removed. Like distilled water, it's actually too pure. They have to add minerals and salts back into it for health and taste reasons. While it's too expensive to use for most municipal water supplies, a few cities on islands or in extremely dry regions do use them to provide tap water.

    Then come the spring waters, which are naturally filtered through miles of sand and rock.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 20, 2014 @09:56PM (#46802765)

    The Portland city water supply is continually tested, and those tests have repeatedly shown the water to be of higher quality (in terms of dissolved solids/minerals and contaminants) than most of the city/municipal water supplies in the United States -- despite the lack of treatment and open reservoirs. There's a 12,000 foot tall mountain with some of the cleanest natural springs in the world flowing directly in to the city water supply; a bottle of Perrier or San Pellegrino is probably dirtier.

    This whole thing is astroturf anyway; someone wants to take away the city's ability to set water rates.

  • by Dahamma (304068) on Sunday April 20, 2014 @11:24PM (#46803079)

    Are you kidding? Sure, there may be decent well water out there, but not in many areas. Much of the midwest US that uses well water has to use water softeners because of the mineral content, and some still have occasional boil orders for safety.

    I remember when my Chicago suburb switched from well water to Lake Michigan water. The lake water was not only much better tasting, but usually 10 degrees colder out of the tap...

  • by Smurf (7981) on Monday April 21, 2014 @12:04AM (#46803205)

    New York City water is untreated and it has some of the best water in the country.

    Really? Cause I've read otherwise:

    Before entering City pipes, all drinking water is treated with chlorine, fluoride, food-grade phosphoric acid, and sometimes with sodium hydroxide. Water quality and infrastructure are overseen by the City's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in coordination with the EPA and New York State 's Department of Health.

    Source [pwconserve.org]

Do you suffer painful illumination? -- Isaac Newton, "Optics"

Working...