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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Water Bureau

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

Customer Service: 503-823-7770

GENERAL INFORMATION: 503-823-7404

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MEDIA ADVISORY 09/07/2017: Eagle Creek Fire: Bull Run Watershed Update

The Eagle Creek Fire is one of the top fires in the nation.

The United Command is the lead agency in fighting this fire. The Portland Water Bureau is grateful that U.S. Forest Service has prioritized protection of the Bull Run Watershed among the many issues caused by the fire.

The Water Bureau’s top priority is protecting the water supply and facilities in the watershed, and keeping its staff safe. This morning’s update confirms that the fire remains on the edge of the protected area.

The U.S. Forest Service prepares and periodically updates a Fire Protection Plan for the Bull Run Management Unit in consultation with the Portland Water Bureau and the Oregon Department of Forestry. The plan includes specific provisions for fire prevention, detection, and suppression. The most current fire protection plan is available on the Portland Water Bureau website, posted at https://www.portlandoregon.gov/water/article/654687.

The Portland Water Bureau does not have a direct firefighting role. The bureau works closely with the agencies in charge, which include U.S. Forest Service, the Oregon Department of Forestry, and local fire departments. The bureau provides information to the joint fire command to support management of the fires and protection of the watershed.

On Monday, Sept. 4, U.S. Forest Service notified the Portland Water Bureau that, if necessary, it would use fire retardant to fight the Eagle Creek fire. Under the terms of the Fire Protection Plan, U.S. Forest Service is authorized to use retardant under certain circumstances.

To date, fire retardant has not been used to combat this fire, including in the watershed.

“The U.S. Forest Service will not normally make retardant drops in avoidance area,” said Oregon State Fire Marshal and Portland Fire & Rescue representative Lt. Damon Simmons. “Number one on the list of avoidance areas is watersheds. Retardant is not dropped on watersheds unless there is an imminent threat to life.”

The Portland Water Bureau has taken steps to prepare for the possible use of retardant by the U.S. Forest Service.

The bureau continues to monitor water quality to ensure that the water remains safe. The U.S. Forest Service Fire Protection Plan and national policy prohibit the use of retardant near waterways. In the unlikely event that any retardant enters the water supply, the most likely impact would be an increase in the water’s nutrient load and a potential increase in algae production.

The Portland Water Bureau continues to work closely with the Incident Command, which has the authority to manage the fire. In the event that retardant is used, the Portland Water Bureau will share that information with the public as soon as it is notified by U.S. Forest Service.

MEDIA ADVISORY 09/07/2017: Portland Water Bureau Temporarily Activates Groundwater

Today, Sept. 7, the Water Bureau is activating groundwater from the Columbia South Shore Well Field. The activation is in response to a temporary shortage of ammonia at our Lusted Hill treatment facility. This temporary chemical shortage resulted from transportation delays. A delivery is expected within the next 24 hours and will allow the bureau to return to 100 percent Bull Run.

Due to the shortage, the bureau is unable to treat a sufficient amount of water from the Bull Run to meet all customer demands. As a result, the bureau is blending groundwater at approximately 50 percent. It anticipates the need to use groundwater for up to a day.

The Columbia South Shore Well Field is a high-quality water supply which meets or surpasses all federal and state drinking water regulations. It may take up to two weeks, depending on your location, for the change in source water to make its way through the distribution system to homes and businesses.

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 conditions that occur in the Portland water system. Customers with questions are encouraged to call the Water Line at 503-823-7525.

Portland Water Bureau Returns to 100 Percent Bull Run Water

The Portland Water Bureau has returned to 100 percent Bull Run water supply. Due to a temporary shortage of ammonia at our Lusted Hill treatment facility, the Water Bureau had been blending the Bull Run supply with approximately 50 percent groundwater. This blend lasted for less than 24 hours. The activation of groundwater was not due to the Eagle Creek Fire.

It may take up to two weeks, depending on your location, for the change in source water to move through the distribution system. The Bull Run Watershed and the Columbia South Shore Well Field are both high quality water supplies which meet or surpass all federal and state drinking water regulations.

Customers with questions are encouraged to call the Water Line at 503-823-7525.

Sept. 8 Update on the Eagle Creek Fire and Bull Run Watershed

Eagle Creek Fire Updates Sept 8th

Our most recent update from Incident Command tells us that less than one percent of the Bull Run Watershed Management Unit has been burned by the Eagle Creek Fire. Incident Command is the lead agency in fighting the Eagle Creek Fire. It is made up of the U.S. Forest Service, the Oregon Department of Forestry, and local fire departments.

The one percent of the Bull Run Watershed that has been burned is on the northwest corner of the watershed boundary. At this time, the fire is not near the drinking water reservoirs or water supply infrastructure. Water from the Bull Run continues to be safe to drink.

Fire fighters entered the watershed yesterday and evaluated Water Bureau structures. They found that the water supply structures, including Headworks, are “highly defensible.” The agencies have said they will prioritize protecting the Bull Run Watershed.

The Water Bureau has returned to 100 percent Bull Run water supply. Yesterday, our ammonia vendor had a logistical complication with its transportation contractor, resulting in a temporary shortage of ammonia to our Lusted Hill treatment facility. The Water Bureau responded by activating a groundwater blend for less than 24 hours. The activation of groundwater was not due to the Eagle Creek Fire. If the need arises to switch to the Columbia South Shore Well Field, this high-quality secondary water supply is ready for activation.

Unified Incident Command is establishing fire breaks along the southern flank of the fire. The Water Bureau is cooperating with that effort as Unified Command establishes fire lines within the northern perimeter of the watershed. The bureau is helping to provide access to firefighters by opening watershed gates and providing portable restrooms to meet their sanitation needs.

Water quality monitoring continues in the Bull Run and the water remains safe to drink. In past fires near the watershed, falling ash did not have a measurable impact on water quality.

The Water Bureau continues coordination with the Unified Incident Command. The bureau has staff stationed at the Unified Command’s fire camp in Odell, Oregon. Staff is directly coordinating with the fire crews that are fighting the fire near the Bull Run Watershed Management Unit.

Water Bureau managers; emergency management professionals; water quality, water system operations and natural resources experts; engineers; security; and communications staff, are actively coordinating with Unified Command in this emergency.

For the most updated information about the fire, check the Incident Information System website at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5584/.