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Portland Water Bureau

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GENERAL INFORMATION: 503-823-7404

1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97204

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News Release 05/24/14: Tap Water is Safe to Drink; Boil Water Notice Ends

Tap water is safe to drink: Boil Water Notice Ends

Portland,OR-  As of 11:00 AM Saturday May 24, 2014, the Boil Water Notice issued on May 23, 2014 is lifted. Tap water is safe to drink for all customers of the Portland Water Bureau. Customers of the Burlington, City of Gresham (North of I-84), Lake Grove, Lorna Water, Palatine Hill, Rockwood, Tigard Water Service Area (including Durham, King City and Bull Mountain), Valley View, and West Slope Water Districts may now drink tap water without boiling it first. 

Follow-up testing of drinking water has shown the absence of bacterial contamination. The Portland Water Bureau recommends flushing all taps for 2 minutes or until the water runs cold before consuming for the first time. This will flush any potentially contaminated water from the plumbing.

The Portland Water Bureau issued a ‘Boil Water Notice’ on May 23, 2014 in response to bacterial contamination detected at three locations in its system. All customers of the Portland Water Bureau and Burlington, City of Gresham (North of I-84), Lake Grove, Lorna Water, Palatine Hill, Rockwood, Tigard Water Service Area (including Durham, King City and Bull Mountain), Valley View, and West Slope Water Districts were affected.

Tests conducted throughout the affected area since the notice was issued were clear of contamination. As a precaution, the Portland Water Bureau will be draining and cleaning Reservoirs 1 and 5. An investigation into determining the source of contamination is ongoing. The reservoirs will be put back into service once it is determined to be safe to do so. The Portland Water Bureau thanks customers for their cooperation and understanding during the boil water notice. While the contamination was likely minimal, the health and safety of customers is the first priority of the bureau. The Portland Water Bureau consulted closely with the Oregon Health Authority – Drinking Water Services and the Multnomah County Health Officer to ensure that all state and federal health procedures were followed and standards were maintained.

Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.

For more information visit www.portlandoregon.gov/water, https://www.facebook.com/PortlandWaterBureau, @portlandwater, or call the Water Bureau Customer Service line at (503) 823-7770.

 

Understanding the Boil Water Notice Process

The Portland Water Bureau followed regulated procedures for reporting a positive total coliform and/or E. coli sample and issuing a Boil Water Notice.

The Water Bureau must report the results of any water samples that test positive for the presence of bacteria to the Oregon Health Authority Drinking Water Services (OHA). The bureau is then required to take several samples around the site and re-test. The test takes about 18 hours to show results. If either the first or second test comes back positive for the presence of E.coli, the OHA may order the Water Bureau to issue a Boil Water Notice. The Portland Water Bureau cannot issue a Boil Water Notice without the authorization from the OHA.

If the second test sample comes back ‘clean’, or free of bacteria, then a Boil Water Notice is not ordered by OHA.

The water quality incident of the week of May 19 was very unusual. In three regularly scheduled water samples, sampled from three different locations, the sample tested positive for E. coli. Following is the chronology of water quality incidents of the week of May 19, 2014.

Date: Wednesday May 21, 2014

Sample site: Reservoir 1 in Mt. Tabor Park

Results of a routine water sample taken Tuesday, May 20, collected at the outlet of Reservoir 1 in Mt.Tabor Park, came in early Wednesday May 21. The results tested positive for the presence of E. coli and total coliform bacteria. The bureau notified the OHA, which directed the City to take repeat samples. The results of the repeat samples came in Thursday morning and were all clear. OHA did not require any additional action from the Portland Water Bureau.

Date: Thursday May 22, 2014

Sample site: SE 2nd Avenue and Salmon Street Water Quality Sampling Station

Results of a routine water sample taken Wednesday, May 21, collected at the SE 2nd Avenue and Salmon Street Water Quality Sampling Station, came in early Thursday May 22. The results tested positive for the presence of E. coli and total coliform bacteria. The bureau notified the OHA, which again directed the City to take repeat samples. The results of the repeat samples came in Friday morning and were all clear. On Thursday, OHA did not require any additional action from the Portland Water Bureau.

Date: Friday May 23, 2014

Sample site: Reservoir 5 at Mt. Tabor Park

Results of a routine water sample taken Thursday, May 22, collected at the outlet of Reservoir 5 in Mt. TaborPark, came in early Friday. The results tested positive for the presence of E. coli and total coliform bacteria. The bureau notified the OHA, which directed the City to take repeat samples. At that time, OHA also ordered the Portland Water Bureau to issue a Boil Water Notice as a precautionary measure.

If the re-samples taken at Reservoir 5 atMt.Tabor Park and additional surveillance samples collected throughout the system come back ‘clean’ on Saturday May 24, the Boil Water Notice can be lifted for Portland Water Bureau customers.

NEWS RELEASE 05/23/14: Boil Water Notice Issued for All Portland Water Bureau Customers and Some Affected Regional Water Providers

Water samples taken at three locations test positive over three-day period for bacteria.

The State of Oregon Health Authority’s Drinking Water Program has required the City of Portland to issue a Boil Water Notice for all Portland Water Bureau customers and some regional water providers.

Until further notice, all Portland Water Bureau customers and those in the affected areas should boil all tap water used for drinking, food preparation, tooth brushing and ice for at least one minute. Ice or any beverages prepared with un-boiled tap water on or after May 20 should be discarded. Detailed maps, fact sheets and additional information can be found on the Water Bureau’s website at www.portlandoregon.gov/water/boilwaternotice or by calling Customer Service at 503-823-7770.

In three separate incidents from May 20 to May 23, repeat water samples confirmed the presence of total coliform and E. coli in routine drinking water samples. The water samples that tested positive for bacteria were collected at the outlets of Mt. Tabor Reservoirs 1 and 5, and at the SE 2nd Avenue and Salmon Street water sampling station. Both reservoirs have been taken offline.

A press conference will be held at 12 noon today at the City of Portland Emergency Coordination Center, 9911 SE Bush Street in Portland.

All Portland Water Bureau customers are affected. Also affected are customers of the following water providers: 

  • Burlington Water District
  • City of Gresham (North of I-84)
  • Lake Grove Water District
  • Lorna Portland Water
  • Palatine Hill Water District
  • Rockwood Water District
  • Tigard Water Service Area (including Durham, King City and Bull Mountain)
  • Valley View Water District
  • West Slope Water District

“While we believe at this time that the potential health risk is relatively small, we take any contamination seriously and are taking every precaution to protect public health,” said Portland Water Bureau Administrator David Shaff. 

Consuming boiled and bottled water will ensure public health protection until the Water Bureau can determine that the water system is clean of contamination through surveillance sampling. Customers will be notified when they no longer have to boil their water. The Portland Water Bureau is working with the Multnomah County Health Department to provide health-related information to the public.

“The chance of any health problems related to this water test result is low. If any problems occur, we would expect diarrhea,” said Dr. Paul Lewis, Interim Tri-County Health Officer. “We monitor cases of bacterial diarrhea and will be aware of any increase following this event.”

The Portland Water Bureau collects approximately 240 routine bacterial samples per month throughout the system. The test to determine the presence of bacteria takes about 18 hours. It is not unusual for one of these samples to test positive for bacteria. Samples to confirm possible contamination are collected immediately after an initial detection of the presence of bacteria in drinking water. Once the detection has been confirmed, public health officials recommend that the public boil all tap water before consuming.

Contamination can occur when there is a loss of water pressure, a pipe breaks, or conditions that expose drinking water to outside elements. The Portland Water Bureau is performing a full investigation to identify the cause of the contamination. However, it is not always possible to make an exact determination.

Customers can visit www.portlandoregon.gov/water/boilwaternoticeto determine if their home or business is in the Boil Water Notice area. The Boil Water Notice, fact sheets and contact information are provided on this same website. For more information, affected customers should contact the Portland Water Bureau Customer Service at 503-823-7770.

Do not call 9-1-1 unless you have an emergency. Follow updates on Twitter at #PDXBOIL.

Customer Service Walk-In Center Closed May 26

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The Portland Water Bureau's Customer Service Walk-In Center will be closed on Monday, May 26 in observance of the Memorial Day holiday. 

The Walk-In Center, located on the first floor of the Portland Building at 1120 SW 5th Avenue, will reopen on Tuesday, May 27 at 8:00 AM. 

For your convenience you may pay your bill online, or pay by Visa or MasterCard by calling our automated payment system at 503-823-7770 and pressing 1.  You may also leave a payment in the night box located outside the front door at 1120 SW 5th Avenue Portland, OR 97204.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

Customer Service

Join us for Cycle the Well Field on May 31

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What local resource is capable of producing close to 100 million gallons per day of high quality drinking water, is the second largest water source in the State of Oregon, and is used as a back up water supply for customers served by the Portland Water Bureau?

Answer: The Columbia South Shore Well Field! 

Columbia South Shore Well Field Groundwater Aquifers

The Columbia South Shore Well Field is a series of 27 water supply wells located between the Columbia River and I-84, and stretching from I-205 in Portland all the way to Troutdale. Groundwater from the well field is used to supplement water from the Bull Run watershed during turbidity events or hot summer weather when water demand is greatest.

Columbia South Shore Well Field

On Saturday, May 31, 2014 from 8:45 am to 1:30 pm, the Portland Water Bureau and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council invite you, your friends and family aged 12 and up to take part in a yearly bike tour of this resource during the “Cycle the Well Field” event. 

Learn about the history, safety and functionality of Portland's underground drinking water system while pedaling over relatively flat terrain at a slow/moderate pace. Helmets are required and light refreshments provided. Bring water and a lunch to enjoy at Blue Lake Park.

Cycle the Well Field participants

Advanced registration is required for this free event. Please contact Penny Beckwith, Columbia Slough Watershed Council Outreach Director, at 503-281-1132 or register online

Doug Wise
Groundwater Protection