PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In the second week of November, Portland voters will decide whether to restrict public access to land that surrounds the city’s main drinking water supply. The new protections would come through an amendment to the city’s charter.
The watershed provides drinking water for a million people and City Commissioner Amanda Fritz has been pushing for those protections through a measure on this November’s special election ballot.
Currently, Portland city code does provide protections against development and tree-cutting in the watershed that feeds Bull Run. However, a “yes” vote in the special election would put this in the city charter and prevent future city council members from changing that. It would mean that the voters would have to approve future development for tree-cutting in those areas instead of commissioners.
Fritz said she supports the measure because she feels the Bull Run Watershed closure area is important to protect as a municipal water source.
“It’s delicious water,” Fritz said. “It’s protected. It’s a rain forest, so it’s its own ecosystem and it provides us with this really amazing drinking water—and I want to protect it for generations to come.”
The measure would also prohibit transferring city-owned lands or infrastructure to private businesses or organizations without voter approval.
Fritz said they recently did a land swap so they own the land around the reservoir and have a certain amount of authority over that area. Several conservation and environmental groups support this charter amendment, and no one has officially filed any opposition to the measure. However, because it deals with changes to the city charter, voters will have the final say this week.
More information about Ballot Measure 26-204 that concerns the Bull Run Watershed can be found here.