Earlier today I received a rather alarming piece of news from one of the supervisors at my job about the fact that Portland’s water system was on a boil alert thanks to concerns about e-coli , meaning that no one in the affected areas  should drink any water without boiling it for at least one minute. Of course, the immediate question at hand was whether this applied to us at work (it didn’t, thankfully, as I have been keeping hydrated far more than usual in an attempt to gradually whittle away at the uric acid crystals that have been resting in my foot for about a week now, and would not wish to add e-coli to my list of health concerns and woes). That, at least, was one piece of good news that reduced my alarm considerably.
Considering that I am not in the city of Portland itself, I thought that was the end of my concerns. As it happens, though, the city of Tigard is a part of the water concerns, and others who both sit and live near me, as odd as that is, happen to be on the other side of the border between the cities of Beaverton and Tigard, and being on the other side of the road means that they are under the alert while I am not. That said, I do not think it is anything to be trifled with, but all the same I am relieved, for a change, to be on the right side of the line, as that is not a particularly common experience for me.
Those who know me well will no doubt be very familiar with the fact that I tend to live my life near or across lines, making my life a bit more complicated than it has to be . Whether it is in geographic terms or in my tendency to make friendships with those often deemed inappropriate on account of age or marital status, being on the wrong side of lines happens to be area of considerable personal expertise. Having that odd sense of relief because I live a few yards in the right direction is not necessarily a common feeling, though, especially since the last two addresses of mine happen to have been on the wrong side of the line, one in the city of Portland and the other in the Rockwood water area.
It feels somewhat odd to be watching a historical moment, of sorts, this being the largest boil water alert ever in the history of Portland, a water alert that comes on the heels of some major controversies relating to the issue of water in this area. There was, for example, a recent political campaign that sought to remove the control of Portland’s water bureau from political hands by making it an independent commission, as it is in most places. Part of that campaign included the rather unpleasant reminder that Portlanders pay more for water than those in dry Phoenix, Arizona, at least in part because of political corruption that includes the use of utilities charges to fund political campaigns and engage in questionable purchases of non-water related property. This is all the more alarming, after all, when the city cannot even manage to provide clean water for its citizens. But, I’m happy to live on the right side of the line for a change, where my water does not have to depend on the city of Portland, at any rate.
 See, for example: