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Monday, February 17, 2014

Hey, Buddy, Got A Moment to Talk About Portland's Water System?

Posted by Dirk VanderHart on Mon, Feb 17, 2014 at 3:14 PM

You're not done dodging street-corner clipboard jockeys. Not by a long shot.

Less than a month after campaigners submitted enough signatures to land a controversial water/sewer measure on May's ballot, supporters of another water-related initiative are just getting their own signature-gathering push off the ground.

Over the weekend, Portland's elections office approved petition sheets the Cascadian Public Trust Initative campaign will circulate in coming months, hoping to wrangle almost 30,000 signatures by July 7. The group's also formally formed a political action committee and has begun crowdsourcing cash .

"We've hit the ground running with signature gathering," chief petitioner Jonah Majure writes in an e-mail. "We have an amazing group of volunteers coming in to fill various facilitation roles and there's a lot of positive energy around the People's Water Trust."

As we've reported, the measure formed last summer, partly because of activists' concerns over an industry-backed campaign to create a new water and sewer board. The "People's Water Trust" proposal would demand a public vote before the city can add new chemicals—like fluoride—to the water supply, force the city to exhaust all avenues in fighting the federally mandated closure of reservoirs in Washington Park and on Mount Tabor, and give citizens a mechanism to sue for shoddy stewardship of the water system, among other things.

Volunteers will carry out signature gathering for the time being, Majure says, though the campaign will look into hiring paid workers if necessary.

"We'll be running that process ourselves to keep costs down since we have no larger donors," Majure writes.

It's a realistic concern. The other water campaign—the Portland Public Water District— spent more than $100,000 to gather the 50,000+ signatures that earned it a spot on the May 20 ballot. The People's Water Trust has received $880 in donations to date, according to its fundraising page.

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