MAILING ADDRESS: 1120 SW 5th Ave, Room 1000, Portland, OR 97204
Contact: Diane Dulken (503)823-5328 firstname.lastname@example.org
Are you planning to swim, boat or play in the Willamette River this summer? Environmental Services tests for E. coli bacteria at five popular Willamette River locations each week from late May to late September. Samples are taken on Wednesdays, and results posted on Fridays.
Each month, year-round, Environmental Services collects water samples at three locations to track long-term water quality trends.
(In April 2019, higher bacteria levels were recorded during the "April floods," when the river turned brown for several days from a mix of snowmelt, rain and debris that washed downstream through Portland.)
Keep in mind many factors affect your safety on the river, including temperature, currents, and debris in the river as well as your skills and ability in the water. Remember, cold water is healthy for fish, but it can be uncomfortable and even unsafe for people. Know the water, know your abilities, and stay safe while enjoying the river.
Be advised, combined sewer overflows (CSOs) are rare, thanks to the Big Pipe Project, but may still occur during periods of exceptionally heavy rain. In the unlikely event of an overflow, Environmental Services will issue a CSO advisory to the news media, place signs along the river, and post the advisory information at the top of this page and on the home page. During CSOs, the public is advised to avoid contact with the river for 48 hours due to increased bacteria.
Thanks to ratepayers’ investment in the $1.4 billion Big Pipe project – the largest public works project in Portland history that was completed in 2011 – almost all combined sewer overflows (CSOs)to the Willamette River have been eliminated. With that drop in sewage exposure comes a drop in E. coli bacteria – an indicator of fecal matter and the single biggest health concern for swimming and other direct-contact recreation, according to the state Department of Environmental Quality.
Other E. coli sources include poop from wildlife and pets (thank you for picking up after your dog). Because of the public’s interest in recreation on the Willamette River, Environmental Services tests for bacteria weekly during the summer – it’s one way you can be assured of bacteria levels and see and experience the results of your investment in the Big Pipe project.
Environmental Services is working for a healthier river on many fronts, from reducing sewage overflows to restoring habitat to collaborating on the cleanup of the Portland Harbor Superfund site. Here you can find additional resources and answers to frequently asked questions.