Ear to the Ground
Ear to the Ground
Our attorney contributors share relevant and timely insight into real estate, energy law, water law, and environmental issues.
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The “Wet” is Returning to the Oaks Bottom Wetlands

After almost completely drying out this summer, water has begun to return to the 140-acre Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge in southeast Portland, as work wraps up on an extensive wetlands rehabilitation project. Oaks Bottom is the largest remaining…
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Drink Up, Portland!

Last week, a colleague and I went on a field trip hosted by the Portland Water Bureau to the Bull Run Watershed, which is the primary water supply for the City of Portland and its multiple wholesale customers (including the City of Beaverton). The…
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It's Looking Like a Long, Dry Summer

By the middle of June, Governor Kate Brown had already issued drought declarations for several counties—Baker, Douglas, Grant, Harney, Klamath, and Lake. By the 10th of July, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, almost the entire state of Oregon…
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Don't Drink the Water!

EMERGENCY ALERT! Residents of Salem, Oregon, and several surrounding communities received this message on their cell phones on May 29. A toxic algal bloom in Detroit Lake contaminated the communities' water supply and "sensitive" residents were…
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Trends in Drinking Water: Part Two – Poop Water

At the other end of the spectrum from raw water is "poop water" — sewage effluent that has been transformed back into safe drinking water. Whereas raw water is completely untreated, poop water — or "direct potable re-use" if you want a more palatable…
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Trends in Drinking Water: Part One – Raw Water

The water news popping up in my email inbox recently has really run the gamut. One of the latest health fads is apparently drinking "raw water" — meaning unprocessed and untreated water. At the other end of the spectrum, there are a couple of new…
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Portland's Fossil Fuel Terminal Ban Upheld by Court of Appeals

On January 4, 2018, the Oregon Court of Appeals issued its decision in the case brought by Petitioners Columbia Riverkeeper, Portland Audubon Society, and Center for Sustainable Economy, among others, to attempt to uphold the City of Portland's new…
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Water Win-Win

In case you haven't noticed, Washington County is booming. For many years, the County's population has been growing at around 2% annually and its current population of more than 580,000 is second only to Multnomah County's 800,000. Growth means…
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Willamette Falls Riverwalk Moving Forward Despite Adversity

Willamette Falls, between Oregon City and West Linn, is the second-largest waterfall in the US by volume. Home of the nation's first hydroelectric project in 1888, the falls have largely been cut off from public view since then by industrial…
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Water in the Cloud(s)

In case you struggle — as I do — to wrap your head around the concept of "the internet of things," here's a wonderful, accessible, and local example. A Portland company called SweetSense™ has developed a remote sensor monitoring system to improve…
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Water in the Silicon Forest

Do you have any idea how much virtual water is embodied in your computer? A lot! Your morning shower might use about 17 gallons, but manufacturing a computer requires more than 400 times that amount — as much as 7300 gallons. Computer manufacturing…
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Shining a Positive Light on the Willamette River with Portland's New Urban Plan

Growth and development in Portland's central city – comprised of 10 neighborhoods adjacent to or near the Willamette River, including South Waterfront, Lloyd and downtown – will soon be governed by a new urban development plan. A draft of the new…
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The (Bull Run) Honeymoon is Over...

In 1895, Portlanders started drinking unfiltered water from the Bull Run watershed on Mt. Hood. Right away, public health officials noted a big drop in typhoid fever cases, and by 1905, the water was being credited for a record low death rate in…
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"Infrastructure Week" – In Case You Missed It

For those of you who may have been distracted by other events in the news, let me recap the Trump Administration’s "Infrastructure Week" for you. Monday, June 5: President Trump kicked off the week with a formal East Room signing ceremony, complete…
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Beware Environmental Regulations Lurking in City Codes

When most people think of environmental regulations, they think of the federal government (United States Environmental Protection Agency or "EPA") and state agencies (Oregon Department of Environmental Quality or "DEQ"). However, environmental…
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One of the Ways in Which Portland is Not Like Los Angeles

I recently attended the American Bar Association's 35th Annual Water Law Conference in Los Angeles. On opening day, we toured parts of the Los Angeles River Revitalization Project. As often happens when I visit other cities, I am reminded of how…
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Water, Water Everywhere: Coming Soon to a Legislative Chamber Near You

Water is a real estate issue, a business issue, a taxpayer issue. Whether you're a developer, a farmer, a city manager, a manufacturer, or "just" a taxpayer, I think you’ll be hearing a lot more about water in the next few months. Last summer, The…
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Out of Sight, but Not Out of Mind

The unusually cold weather in Portland and other parts of the state this winter brought some attention to the area's aging water infrastructure. The Portland Water Bureau normally deals with about 200 broken water mains a year, but the freezing…
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Five Jaw-Dropping Reasons to Read "Ear to the Ground"

Despite that headline, it's not clickbait. ONE. We are attorneys at Tonkon Torp LLP, a full service business law firm in Portland, Oregon. We have our ears to the ground as to what is going on in the real estate development community in the Pacific…
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