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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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Cryptosporidium Detected In Bull Run Drinking Water

Oct 23 Media ReleaseThe Portland Water Bureau received results today that Cryptosporidium, a potentially disease-causing microorganism, was detected in a water sample collected Wednesday, Oct. 18. The detection was from a sample collected from the Bull Run Watershed intake as part of ongoing monitoring for Cryptosporidium. One oocyst was detected in the 10-liter sample. This detection follows other low-level detections from January through March and again in September of this year. The bureau continues to use the Bull Run as its primary source of drinking water.

About Cryptosporidium

Exposure to Cryptosporidium can cause cryptosporidiosis, a serious illness. Symptoms can include diarrhea, vomiting, fever and stomach pain. People with healthy immune systems recover without medical treatment. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), people with severely weakened immune systems are at risk for more serious disease. Symptoms may be more severe and could lead to serious or life-threatening illness. Examples of people with weakened immune systems include those with AIDS; those with inherited diseases that affect the immune system; and cancer and transplant patients who are taking certain immunosuppressive drugs.

EPA has estimated that a small percentage of the population could experience gastro-intestinal illness from Cryptosporidium and advises that customers who are immunocompromised and receive their drinking water from the Bull Run Watershed consult with their healthcare professional about the safety of drinking the tap water. To learn if your drinking water comes from Bull Run, please contact your local drinking water provider.

No Increase in Cryptosporidium-Related Illness

Public health surveillance during and after a similar series of low-level detections from January through March of this year did not see an increase in Cryptosporidium-related illness. The general public is not advised to take additional precautions.

Water Sampling Results

The public and the media are encouraged to view all sampling results posted to the City’s website at www.portlandoregon.gov/water/cryptoresults.

Water Quality Information

Customers with questions regarding water quality can call the Water Line at 503-823-7525.

Analyzing Water Samples Collected from Forest to Faucet

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Lab scientistSince the early 1960s, we’ve been fortunate to have a water quality testing laboratory, first in the Bull Run Watershed near the treatment facility, then for the last 23 years at the Interstate facility.

Currently, the lab has 13 full time employees: a laboratory manager, a laboratory supervisor, two laboratory coordinators, five laboratory analytical specialists, and four laboratory analysts. These lab experts are in charge of testing Portland’s drinking water supply to ensure it is adhering to state and federal standards for water quality.

Accreditation

The laboratory is accredited to run drinking water analysis by the Oregon Health Authority. To maintain accreditation, the following is required by the lab:

  • Pass two blind performance tests each year for each of 21 chemistry and 6 microbiology analytical methods with 122 analytes
  • Maintain Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS)
  • Have a Quality Manual
  • Conduct an in-house assessment by accreditors every two years
  • Document everything!

By the Numbers

  • Lab microscopeThe lab performs approximately 30 analytical methods for drinking water and environmental water samples.
  • The lab performs about 95 percent of the drinking water analyses that are required for compliance with state and federal drinking water regulations for the bureau.
  • In a typical year, the lab processes approximately 11,000 samples for compliance and process control, producing approximately 58,000 sample results plus another 20,000 QC results. Samples are collected from the Bull Run Reservoirs and Lake, Headworks, Lusted Hill conduits, the groundwater system, the distribution system, water mains construction and repair projects, water system customers, and research projects. The research projects include studies of nitrification and corrosion potential in the distribution system.
  • In 2016, the lab processed about 20,400 samples. The extra samples were mainly to test for lead in the water at schools, day care centers, city facilities, and individual customer homes and businesses.

Oct. 25, 2017 Cryptosporidium Monitoring Update

Crypto UpdateThe Portland Water Bureau received results today that Cryptosporidium, a potentially disease-causing microorganism, was detected in a water sample collected Sunday, Oct. 22. The detection was from the Bull Run Watershed intake as part of ongoing monitoring for Cryptosporidium. Three oocysts were detected from a total of 50 liters of water. This detection follows a previous detection on Oct. 18. There were also a series of low-level detections from January through March, and again in September of this year. The bureau continues to use the Bull Run as its primary source of drinking water.

About Cryptosporidium

Exposure to Cryptosporidium can cause cryptosporidiosis, a serious illness. Symptoms can include diarrhea, vomiting, fever and stomach pain. People with healthy immune systems recover without medical treatment. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), people with severely weakened immune systems are at risk for more serious disease. Symptoms may be more severe and could lead to serious or life-threatening illness. Examples of people with weakened immune systems include those with AIDS; those with inherited diseases that affect the immune system; and cancer and transplant patients who are taking certain immunosuppressive drugs.

EPA has estimated that a small percentage of the population could experience gastro-intestinal illness from Cryptosporidium and advises that customers who are immunocompromised and receive their drinking water from the Bull Run Watershed consult with their healthcare professional about the safety of drinking the tap water. The Portland Water Bureau and Burlington, City of Gresham, City of Sandy, City of Tualatin, Green Valley, GNR, Hideaway Hills, Lake Grove, Lorna Portland Water, Lusted, Palatine Hill, Pleasant Home, Raleigh, Rockwood, Skyview Acres, Tualatin Valley, Two Rivers, Valley View and West Slope Water Districts receive all or part of their drinking water supply from the Bull Run. To learn if your drinking water comes from Bull Run, please contact your local drinking water provider.

No Increase in Cryptosporidium-Related Illness

Public health surveillance during and after a similar series of low-level detections from January through March of this year did not see an increase in Cryptosporidium-related illness. The general public is not advised to take additional precautions.

Water Sampling Results

The public and the media are encouraged to view all sampling results posted to the City’s website at www.portlandoregon.gov/water/cryptoresults. The media will also be notified of any further low-level detections on at least a weekly basis, if they occur. The bureau will notify the media and public immediately should further test results indicate a risk to public health and precautions are necessary.

Water Quality Information

Customers with questions regarding water quality can call the Water Line at 503-823-7525.

Recent Monitoring Results Found Elevated Levels of Lead in Tests at Some High-Risk Homes

The Portland Water Bureau received results from its twice-a-year testing for lead in water at high-risk homes, those known to have lead solder in their home plumbing.

Test results showed that the lead levels were 17 parts per billion, over the action level of 15 parts per billion. In the most recent round of testing, 18 of 134 high-risk homes had lead-in-water levels above the action level. When more than 10 percent of these homes are above the action level, the Portland Water Bureau (PWB) is required to notify the public and implement corrective actions.

"Ideally, all of our customers’ household plumbing fixtures would be lead-free, but they aren’t. This is why we are making improvements to our system to further reduce the potential for lead at our customers’ taps.”

— Michael Stuhr
Water Bureau Administrator

Fortunately, there are very few sources of lead in Portland’s drinking water system. In Portland, lead in water primarily comes from home plumbing such as faucets or lead-based solder. Lead in plumbing can be released by the corrosive action of water when it is in contact with these lead sources.

The bureau treats Bull Run drinking water to make it less corrosive by raising the pH of the water

Lead is a common metal found in the environment. The primary sources of lead exposure are lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust or soil.

“Ideally, all of our customers’ household plumbing fixtures would be lead-free, but they aren’t,” said Portland Water Bureau Director Michael Stuhr. “This is why we are making improvements to our system to further reduce the potential for lead at our customers’ taps.”

What the Water Bureau is Doing

On March 1, 2017, Portland City Council authorized the Portland Water Bureau to begin implementation of improved corrosion control treatment to further reduce the levels of lead in drinking water. This decision was based on a corrosion control study indicating that additional treatment is the most effective means of further reducing lead in water from home and building plumbing. Improved treatment is anticipated to be in place by Spring 2022.

The Portland Water Bureau most recently exceeded the action level for lead in Fall of 2016, when 14 of 112 homes had lead-in-water levels above the action level. In response, the bureau notified its customers and reached out to those most at-risk, as it is doing again now.

The current test results are part of a regional monitoring program that includes the following drinking water providers: Portland Water Bureau, Burlington, Lorna Portland Water, Palatine Hill, Pleasant Home, Raleigh, Valley View and West Slope water districts.

How to Reduce Your Exposure to Lead in Water

The Portland Water Bureau and regional providers recommend the following easy steps that customers can take now to reduce exposure to lead in water:

  1. Run water to flush the lead out. If the water has not been used for several hours, run each tap for 30 seconds to 2 minutes or until it becomes colder before drinking or cooking. This simple step can reduce lead in water up to 90 percent or more.
  2. Use cold, fresh water for cooking and preparing baby formula. Do not cook with or drink water from the hot water tap; lead dissolves more easily into hot water. Do not use water from the hot water tap to make baby formula.
  3. Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water will not reduce lead.
  4. Test children for lead. Ask a physician or call the LeadLine to find out how to have aa child tested for lead. A blood lead level test is the only way to know if a child is being exposed to lead.
  5. Test your water for lead. Contact the LeadLine at www.leadline.org or 503-988-4000 to find out how to get a FREE lead-in-water test.
  6. Consider using a filter. Check whether it reduces lead – not all filters do. Be sure to maintain and replace a filter device in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions to protect water quality. Contact NSF International at 800-NSF-8010 or www.nsf.org for information on performance standards for water filters.
  7. Regularly clean the faucet aerator. Particles containing lead from solder or household plumbing can become trapped in faucet aerators. Regularly cleaning every few months will remove these particles and reduce the exposure to lead.
  8. Consider buying low-lead fixtures.  As of 2014, all pipes, fittings and fixtures are required to contain less than 0.25% lead. When buying new fixtures, consumers should seek out those with the lowest lead content.

Get a Free Lead In Water Test

To get your water tested for lead or for more information on reducing lead exposure around your home or building and the health effects of lead, contact the LeadLine at www.leadline.org or 503-988-4000.

Oct. 30, 2017 Cryptosporidium Monitoring Update

Cryptosporidium monitoring updateThe Portland Water Bureau received additional results from ongoing monitoring from the Bull Run Watershed intake for Cryptosporidium, a potentially disease-causing microorganism.

Between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25, two 10-liter samples each had one Cryptosporidium oocyst. The detections were from samples collected Tuesday, Oct. 24. An additional 13 10-liter samples collected during this period were all negative for Cryptosporidium.

Past Detections

Prior to these detections, Cryptosporidium was last detected on Sunday, Oct. 22 when three oocysts were detected from 50 liters of water from the Bull Run. The bureau continues to use the Bull Run as its primary source of drinking water.

About Cryptosporidium

Exposure to Cryptosporidium can cause cryptosporidiosis, a serious illness. Symptoms can include diarrhea, vomiting, fever and stomach pain. People with healthy immune systems recover without medical treatment. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), people with severely weakened immune systems are at risk for more serious disease. Symptoms may be more severe and could lead to serious or life-threatening illness. Examples of people with weakened immune systems include those with AIDS; those with inherited diseases that affect the immune system; and cancer and transplant patients who are taking certain immunosuppressive drugs.

The Environmental Detection Agency has estimated that a small percentage of the population could experience gastro-intestinal illness from Cryptosporidium and advises that customers who are immunocompromised and receive their drinking water from the Bull Run Watershed consult with their healthcare professional about the safety of drinking the tap water. The Portland Water Bureau and Burlington, City of Gresham, City of Sandy, City of Tualatin, Green Valley, GNR, Hideaway Hills, Lake Grove, Lorna Portland Water, Lusted, Palatine Hill, Pleasant Home, Raleigh, Rockwood, Skyview Acres, Tualatin Valley, Two Rivers, Valley View and West Slope Water Districts receive all or part of their drinking water supply from the Bull Run.

To learn if your drinking water comes from Bull Run, please contact your local drinking water provider.

No Increase in Cryptosporidium-Related Illnesses

Public health surveillance during and after a similar series of low-level detections from January through March of this year did not see an increase in Cryptosporidium-related illness. The general public is not advised to take additional precautions.

Water Sampling Results

The public and the media are encouraged to view all sampling results posted to the City’s website at www.portlandoregon.gov/water/cryptoresults. The media will also be notified of any further low-level detections on at least a weekly basis, if they occur. The bureau will notify the media and public immediately should further test results indicate a risk to public health and precautions are necessary.

Water Quality Information

Customers with questions regarding water quality can call the Water Line at 503-823-7525.