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Portland Water Bureau

From forest to faucet, we deliver the best drinking water in the world.


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

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The federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) regulates public drinking water supplies.

It required that water quality standards be developed and enforced. The history of the Safe Drinking Water Act since its passage in 1974 is shown at an EPA website. Congress delegated development and enforcement of drinking water standards to the US Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA develops rules that govern how the provisions of the Act will be carried out. 

Oregon Department of Human Services - Drinking Water Program (ODHS) is the primacy agency that enforces drinking water regulations in Oregon.  ODHS displays compliance records for the Portland Water Bureau.

Early regulations resulting from the Safe Drinking Water Act include the Trihalomethane Rule and the Radionuclide Rule. The Trihalomethane Rule deals with certain disinfection by-products. The Radionuclide Rule deals with exposure to radionuclides. Both rules require monitoring and set maximum contaminant levels (MCL). In 1986 Congress reauthorized the Act and amended it. The 1986 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Rules developed to implement it have influenced the operation of Portland's water system. Among the changes were the initial regulation of 83 drinking water contaminants, and a requirement to regulate an additional 25 contaminants every three years. Primary Drinking Water Standards and Secondary Drinking Water Standards are set by rules made under this Act.

Several regulations evolved from the Act:  

1996 amendments to the SDWA again shifted the direction of the drinking water rules.  Emphasis on public access to information increased. The states were required to perform source water assessments by 2003. The requirement for regulation of 25 contaminants every 3 years was dropped and new regulations were to be based on scientific data on heath hazard, occurrence and the reduction of risk that would result from the regulation.  

A number of new rules have been developed from these amendments:

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