Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

The City of Portland, Oregon

Nick Fish (In Memoriam)

City of Portland Commissioner

phone: 503-823-3589


1221 S.W. 4th, Room 240, Portland, OR 97204

Council Directs Water Bureau to Proceed with Water Filtration Facility

August 3, 2017

Bull Run Lake

Yesterday, City Council held a hearing to discuss options for compliance with a federal rule requiring treatment for the parasite Cryptosporidium. The Council, by a 5-0 vote, directed the Water Bureau to begin planning for a water filtration facility.

The City has been – and remains in – compliance with all state and federal rules. We continue to test our water for parasites (and haven’t had any detections since March), and Bull Run water is safe to drink.

The hearing included presentations from Water Bureau staff and the City’s Chief Financial Officer, and testimony from Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Paul Lewis, our two citizen oversight bodies – the Portland Utility Board (PUB) and the Oregon Citizens’ Utility Board (CUB), and the public.

Following public testimony, Council directed the Water Bureau to proceed with design and construction of a filtration facility.

Cryptosporidium, or “Crypto” is a microscopic parasite that lives in the intestines of humans and other animals and can cause illness. Federal regulations – the Safe Drinking Water Act and Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule (“LT2”) – require local water utilities to treat for Crypto.

In 2012, Portland became the only water utility in the country to receive a 10-year variance to the required treatment. The variance was a “one strike and you’re out” agreement, and mandated stringent testing.

This past winter, following heavy rains, the bureau detected trace amounts of Crypto in our Bull Run Watershed. In May, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) notified the City that our variance would be revoked, and that we would be required to present a treatment plan to them this fall.

In May, the Water Bureau initiated a robust public process to review treatment options. In June, Council held a work session to learn about treatment options. And the PUB held several public meetings, and both the PUB and the CUB issued formal recommendations encouraging Council to proceed with filtration.

Based on community input, Mayor Wheeler and Commissioner Fish asked OHA for more time to submit our compliance plan. In response, OHA gave us an additional 60 days.

The Water Bureau will use this additional time to develop a compliance plan in consultation with the PUB and CUB.

Thanks to community members who testified and shared their input, the PUB and the CUB for their recommendations, Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Paul Lewis for lending his perspective as a public health professional, and City staff for providing Council with the information it needed to come to a thoughtful decision.

Additional Information:

Portland Water Bureau FAQ


Water Bureau Presentation, June 27 Work Session


OHA Treatment Order (May 19, 2017)


Multnomah County Health Officer Letter (July 18, 2017)


PUB Letter (July 27, 2017)


CUB Letter (July 28, 2017)


Bull Run Wholesale Customer Letter (July 31, 2017)


Mayor Wheeler and Commissioner Fish Requesting Extension from OHA (August 1, 2017)


OHA Letter Granting Extension (August 1, 2017)


Portland City Council Moves Forward With Water Filtration Plant

Ericka Cruz Guevarra in OPB


5-0: Portland City Council chooses filtration

KOIN 6 News


Portland Is Going to Build a Massive Filtration Plant for Its Oft-Lauded Water Supply

Dirk VanderHart in the Portland Mercury


8 things to know about Portland's new water treatment plan

The Oregonian


Portland will pay up to $500 million to clean its drinking water

Jessica Floum in The Oregonian


Portland granted 60-day delay on crypto decision

Jim Redden in the Portland Tribune


Our Opinion: Spend now on filtration, save later

The Portland Tribune Editorial Board

As Portland Considers Two New Water Treatment Plants, Some Worry About "Rushed Process"

Dirk VanderHart in the Portland Mercury


City Hall Watch: Short crypto deadline blasted

Jim Redden in the Portland Tribune


Protect Our Water

The Oregonian Editorial Board


Water bureau recommends hybrid crypto option as vote nears

Jim Redden in the Portland Tribune


Health Official Recommends Most Expensive Treatment Option

Jim Redden in the Portland Tribune


Oversight Group Tells Portland To Slow Decision on Water Treatment Plant

Amelia Templeton in OPB


Advisory Board: More Time or Spendiest Crypto Option

Jim Redden in the Portland Tribune


Crypto Options to be Considered by Advisory Committee Tuesday

Jim Redden in the Portland Tribune


As Portland Races for Water Parasite Treatment, Public Utility Board Hits Brakes

Ericka Cruz Guevarra in OPB


Group Delays Vote on Treating Water for Crypto

Olivia Sanchez in the Portland Tribune


Average Cost of Portland Tap Water Could Increase $10 A Month

Amelia Templeton in OPB


Water Treatment Controversy Heats Up Tuesday

Jim Redden in the Portland Tribune


City Council to Vote on Crypto Treatment by August

Andrew Dymburt in KOIN 6 News


Portland Looking at Ways to Rid its Water of Parasite – At a Cost