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Portland Water Bureau

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Westside Tap Water is Safe to Drink: Boil Water Notice Ends

By Teresa Black 18 Comments

Residents and businesses west of the Willamette River that have Portland water as a source 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 it for the first time. This will flush any potentially contaminated water from the plumbing.

The Portland Water Bureau issued a ‘Boil Water Notice’ on Saturday, July 21, 2012 in response to a second positive test for bacterial contamination in Reservoir 3 in Washington Park. Customers of the Portland Water Bureau west of the Willamette River within the city limit were affected. Customers of Burlington Water District, Valley View Water District, Palatine Hills Water District, City of Tigard, Lake Grove Water District, and West Slope Water District were also affected.

Portland Water Bureau and wholesale customers east of the Willamette River along with Tualatin Valley Water District, Southwood Water District and Raleigh Hills Water District were not affected.

Upstream and downstream tests conducted since the notice was issued were clear of contamination. As a precaution, the reservoir is being drained and will be inspected. An investigation into determining the source of contamination is ongoing. The reservoir may be put back into service once it is determined to be safe to do so.

The Portland Water Bureau regrets any inconvenience the boil water notice has caused. While there was only a small potential for contamination, the health and safety of customers is the first priority of the bureau. Drinking water regulations required the boil water notice. The Portland Water Bureau consulted closely with the State of Oregon Department of Human Services and Multnomah County Health officials to ensure that all state, county and federal health standards were maintained.

If you have any other questions or concerns, please call the Water Line, 503-823-7525.


Add a Comment


Jim McCarthy

July 22, 2012 at 9:15 AM

Thank you for the prompt and complete series of notices concerning the drinking water problem. We look forward to a complete survey of the resulting resevoir contaminants triggering this alert.



July 22, 2012 at 9:25 AM

Is there a cell phone texting system that customers can subscribe to in the event of such an emergency? I was away from radio, tv and internet most of the day and didn't know about the boil notice. If it had been serious to the point of causing illness, my family and I would be because we were drinking the water into the evening before we knew of the notice.


Teresa Black

July 22, 2012 at 9:31 AM

You can sign up for calls, texts, and emails at and you will be notfied of any emergency event that affects your address.


James Starr

July 22, 2012 at 10:05 AM

For the first time in recent memory I am actually congratulating the City of Portland for their superb handling of then contaminated water problem.

A relatively informative article was written by the Oregonian and I was even proud of them until the last sentence of the article. Why would they, The Oregonian, wait until the very end to let water bureau customers know if they were connected to foul water or not. I guess the Oregonian didn’t consider it important.

Jim, South of Tigard


Teresa Black

July 22, 2012 at 10:17 AM

The bacteria found were total coliform and E.coli. These bacteria are found in the human digestive system and very few strains cause serious disease and illness. Although the specific strain of E. coli is not known, generally the strains that are associated with serious illness are rarely found in water supplies. The samples were sent to a specialized lab to attempt to identify the specific type of bacteria.

Clothes do not need to be rewashed.


Lisa Bellison

July 22, 2012 at 10:43 AM

If you found this on Thursday, why did you not let the public know until Saturday?


Carmelita Lai

July 22, 2012 at 11:02 AM

I would like to thank all who have made this emergency information communicated and informed the public of what they were suppose to do such as boiling water. Great work for looking after the public.



July 22, 2012 at 12:14 PM

I didn't hear about it until Sunday when reading the Oregonian. I watch the news generally but don't listen to "live" radio. I couldn't tell if our house was in the affected area except we are Tigard. How did other people find out? Basically, notice was a day late. What will be done in future to alert people of health hazards?


Mardi Berry

July 22, 2012 at 12:21 PM

Is there an email address I can have so I may sign up for any alerts in the future. Thank you in advance for supplying the information!!


Teresa Black

July 22, 2012 at 12:41 PM

State and federal drinking water agencies regulate sampling and reporting procedures for public water suppliers. Water suppliers must promptly inform its customers if their water has become contaminated by something that can cause immediate illness. One positive result for bacteria presence is not considered a reportable incident by regulators; a second positive sample is required before public notification can take place.

Water suppliers have 24 hours to inform their customers of reportable sampling results “that have the potential to have serious adverse effects on human health as a result of short-term exposure.”Tthe Portland Water Bureau posted the Boil Water Notice within 4 hours of the second positive result. As required by the regulatory agencies, the Portland Water Bureau notified the public, and provided information about the potential adverse effects on human health, steps the bureau is taking to correct the incident, and the need to use alternative water supplies (such as boiled or bottled water) until the problem is corrected. Please click on the link below which provides consumer information on drinking water regulations and standards.
Portland Water Bureau Emergency Response staff have worked hard over the weekend to respond to public information requests. More information will be provided starting again tomorrow. The PWB thanks its customers for your cooperation.



July 22, 2012 at 3:01 PM

Thank you for your prompt and thorough info on your website. The map was very helpful.



July 23, 2012 at 9:10 AM

Is there an automatic modification system available for water notice emergencies sent to customers who register via text, email, etc. I run a downtown business and found out about the notice via the news media in time to react appropriately, but feel I was lucky. that



July 23, 2012 at 11:31 AM

I use a Britta filter and I have flushed it out quite a bit since the warning has been lifted. Is the filter safe now? It was brand new!!

Also, all dishes washed by contaminated water, do they need to be rewashed or should they be bleached. If so what ratio of bleach to water is recommended to kill this bacteria?

Thank you!

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