Well, I did it! I wrote every day from early October to New Year's Day 2010. Now I will write for fun when I feel like it and see where that gets me. Cheers to all my small-blessing-appreciating friends!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Portland's Water

Do you know where your water comes from? In many parts of the country the answer would not be nearly as attractive as in Portland. Our city water comes from the Bull Run Watershed. This watershed is protected from logging and all other uses, making it as pristine as you can get. It catches precipitation ranging from 80 inches at the naturally-formed lake where our water is collected to 170 inches in the headwaters in Mt. Hood National Forest. It is fed by rain and snow-melt and by what is called "fog drip" from the thick forest of Douglas firs. The ancient fir forests of the Cascades are amazing places, silent mossy cathedrals floored with fallen logs and the duff of centuries, spongy with moisture.

The water collected from this untouched watershed requires no filtration and is some of the best-quality drinking water in the United States. It is treated with chlorine and ammonia for disinfection, because almost all our streams have the parasite giardia lamblia (see post Nov. 9th) . In addition it is treated to make it somewhat less acidic so it doesn't eat up our plumbing. That is it. Unfortunately, Federal regulations may soon require that it be filtered, just for the heck of it.

The magazine "Tea" in 1998 reported on a study conducted at Fortnum & Mason tea-tasting laboratory of the best tea for each of ten North American cities, based on their municipal water. According to a brochure for Fortnum & Mason, "At one time a list was kept of all the major cities in the world, together with a list of teas suited to the water in each particular city." They tested Seattle's water, which comes from watersheds in the Cascades similar to Portland's. The study reported that, "Tea brewed in Seattle water quite notably produces the clearest and most vibrant colours of all the water tested. Fortnum & Mason experts declare that Seattle water is truly excellent for brewing each of the six teas."  This was not news to me, since I am a tea drinker and have found Portland's water to be superior for tea brewing to that of any place I have lived.

Portland does have some wells, which are used only during dry spells in the summer. I can always tell when the wells are turned on, because suddenly the tea tastes bad. Then I switch to filtered water until the wonderful mountain water is back on tap.

1 comment:

  1. It was a bit ironic that I posted this days before the west-side water supply was invaded by e-coli! I do think we should cover up our pretty reservoirs.