Prohibit Privatization of Portland’s Water System

Published on October 9, 2013

Since its inception in the late 1800s, Portland’s drinking water system has been a public resource owned by the City’s citizens. And yet recent Water Bureau malfeasance and City Council mismanagement put that public ownership in danger.

Today, Portland’s two utilities are deeply in debt to Wall Street bond holders. Other American cities deeply in debt are under increasing pressure to sell assets, especially revenue-producing assets like utilities.

The Portland Public Water District initiative will ensure that Portland’s storied Bull Run water system will never be sold out from under us.  The initiative amends the City charter to specifically prohibit privatization, ensuring that Portland’s water system will remain Portland’s.

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6 replies to “Prohibit Privatization of Portland’s Water System

  1. Fran

    You explain that all Portland registered voters will have the choice of voting on the changes you propose. My question: I live in one of several neighborhoods located in the City of Portland, in unincorporated Washington County. We are registered to vote in Portland, but we get our water through Clean Water Services in Washington County. It doesn’t seem right that we/people would have a right to vote about how water is managed/administered for other people.


    1. Post Author PPWD Kent

      Hello, Fran. Good question. If you are currently able to vote for the members of the Portland City Council (who run Portland’s water and sewer utilities now), then you will be able to vote for a board member for the new Portland Public Water District, regardless of whether you are served by that district. The decision-makers and governance over the two utilities will be changed by the initiative, but not the underlying electorate.


  2. Diane

    Will this prohibit “public-private partnerships”(PPP) of the Water Bureau and the city? The PPP that already exists since 2002 is to sell groundwater at bargain rates to partners of the UV Validation Facility, run by Carollo & subcontractor, Clancy. Is this grandfathered in (also coincidentally controlling the variance)? The terms of the PPP haven’t been disclosed, so we don’t know the effect on the public. If this is with the city, how could future ones be prohibited? Would it prohibit PPP’s for projects like the ‘Water House’?


    1. PPWD Tiffany


      The PPWD Initiative does not address these partnerships directly, but we are confident that independent elected board members will have better judgment when it comes to these kinds of sweetheart deals than City Hall cronies.


    1. PPWD Tiffany

      Thanks for your support! You can pick up signature sheets at our office:

      1100 NE 28th

      Go North on NE 28th Ave. from Sandy Blvd., take a right on Sullivan, go under the freeway and you’ll come out right at the office.


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