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Portland Water Bureau

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NEWS RELEASE 07/16/15: Portland Water Bureau to Augment Supply with Groundwater

By Jaymee Cuti

Beginning Thursday, July 16, the Portland Water Bureau will begin using its groundwater wells in the Columbia South Shore Well Field to ensure adequate water supply to its customers.

Portland is not experiencing a water supply shortage. The Bull Run watershed, in combination with the Columbia South Shore Well Field, is capable of meeting Portland’s water needs throughout the summer.

Public notification is not required but the Portland Water Bureau informs the media and sensitive water users, as a practice, when it activates groundwater. One change that customers may notice is a slight increase in hardness. The media and sensitive water users will again be notified when the Portland Water Bureau returns to 100 percent Bull Run water or if there is a need to increase the use of groundwater above 40 percent.

Due to the dry spring weather, above average summer temperatures, and in consideration of available long-term weather forecasts, the Portland Water Bureau will utilize the Columbia South Shore Well Field to supplement supply for the immediate future. As a result of careful planning, Portland is fortunate to have access to two excellent water sources that allow us to be prepared to meet the range of supply and demand conditions that occur in the Portland water system.

The Columbia South Shore Well Field is a high-quality water supply that meets or surpasses all federal and state drinking water regulations. During the hottest days of July this year, the Water Bureau saw relatively high demand, around 150 million gallons per day. When the temperature dropped, customers went back to using closer to 130 million gallons per day, which is similar to average usage in early July last year. It is anticipated that groundwater will contribute approximately 25 percent of supply and may be increased up to 40 percent if above average demands continue.

“In Portland, we’re fortunate to have two high quality sources of water,” said Portland Water Bureau Administrator David Shaff. "As other parts of the nation are struggling to meet their water supply needs, it's comforting that we can turn to our Columbia South Shore Well Field to meet all our customers’ needs."

As part of our ongoing summer supply planning, the Portland Water Bureau carefully monitors water levels, weather forecasts, and water use patterns to ensure adequate, clean water for all of our customers.  The Portland Water Bureau will be managing our water supply carefully throughout the remainder of this summer, so that we continue to meet our obligations.

Depending on location, it may take up to a week for groundwater to move through the distribution system and reach customers. Weekly supply updates will be posted to www.portlandoregon.gov/water/summersupply. For more information about Portland’s drinking water quality, call the Water Line at 503-823-7525.

Jaymee Cuti
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