The Administrative Review Committee reviews ratepayer requests for account adjustments, proposed account actions, and other disputes concerning water, sewer, and/or stormwater accounts.
The purpose of the Committee is to review account issues that ratepayers have been unable to resolve with the bureaus’ Customer Services group. The Committee weighs policies, rates, and special circumstances when reviewing an account. The Committee may accept the customer’s request, offer with an alternate remedy, or deny the appeal. Administrative Review Committee decisions are bureau decisions.
The Administrative Review Committee is made up of:
One representative from the Portland Water Bureau, confirmed by the Commissioner-in-Charge
The City of Portland ensures meaningful access to City programs, services, and activities to comply with Civil Rights Title VI and ADA Title II laws and reasonably provides: translation, interpretation, modifications, accommodations, alternative formats, auxiliary aids and services. To request these services, contact 503-823-7432, City TTY 503-823-6868, Relay Service: 711.
As part of last week’s decisions, Council also approved a resolution that provided a set of priority values and expectations that will guide the project and commits the Water Bureau to providing annual updates to Council and semi-annual updates to the Portland Utility Board. It is estimated that the treatment option that would meet the Council’s priority values will have an estimated cost of $820 million.
When complete, this filtration facility will remove the microorganism Cryptosporidium and provide other benefits to the Bull Run water supply, producing clean and safe water for the nearly one million people who depend on it now and for future generations.
After a series of small-scale Cryptosporidium detections started in 2017, treating Portland’s drinking water is required by the federal Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule. Per a bilateral compliance agreement with the Oregon Health Authority, treatment needs to start by Sept. 30, 2027.
In addition to removing Cryptosporidium, filtration provides many other significant benefits. It provides the best protection from pathogens, reduces disinfection byproducts, reduces the impact of high turbidity events from fire or storms, helps address algae concerns, keeps sediment out of the distribution system, and better prepares the Portland region for addressing future regulations and emerging contaminants.
“These benefits were the reasons for proposing filtration as a treatment option in 2017 and they are still valid today,” said Water Bureau Director Mike Stuhr.
Earlier this summer, the Water Bureau installed a pilot water treatment plant to learn more about how to most effectively treat the Portland region’s unique water. The data from this pilot project will help inform design of the facility and allow us to obtain the necessary details before the full filtration facility is built and operating. Results from the pilot program will be submitted to regulators in fall of 2020 and include a full year of evaluations to allow for different seasons and water conditions, including elevated turbidity.
Throughout the process, decisions related to the Bull Run Treatment Program and filtration projects are guided by community values and feedback.
“Portlanders love their water and this genuine pride in our amazing resource has prompted us to increase our public outreach and engagement,” said Stuhr. “We are informing this important work through increased transparency and listening. Every day, we hear that Portlanders value the peace-of-mind from a resilient infrastructure system. As part of this, we’re proud to invest in our water infrastructure so that we see benefits now and for future generations.”
Community engagement for the eight-year filtration project has already begun—with many more opportunities in the coming years.
For example, the Bull Run Filtration Site Advisory Group meets monthly to talk through details and options for the project. The group will inform the facility design, construction, and ongoing operation of the project by offering independent community perspectives. Group members include property owners near the future filtration facility site in rural Multnomah County, farm operators, local school representatives, the environmental organizations, and others.
The development of new cost estimates was a result of two years of planning and analysis
The release of a new cost estimate drew the most attention to this round of public discussions. The initial $500 million estimate was calculated within a 60-day deadline, prior to site selection. After two years of planning and engineering analysis, the bureau was able to develop a more accurate project estimate (though still “low confidence level” as defined by the City Council’s Project Estimate Confidence Level Rating Index due to the project scope definition being at the conceptual stage). The $820 million presented in November reflects a variety of site-specific cost variables and a balance of costs with benefits. Project cost estimates will continue to improve as the project works through design and construction costs are determined.
As part of the planning and design work of this project, the Portland Water Bureau is committed to minimizing rate impacts and will continue to seek solutions. The bureau has been invited to apply for a low-interest loan from the Environmental Protection Agency, through the Water Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act (WIFIA). In addition, the bureau has enhanced its financial assistance program and other projects may be delayed to smooth rate impacts. The bureau will continue to find efficiencies in planning and design, such as decreasing the capacity from 160 millions of gallons per day (MGD) to 145 MGD, for additional cost savings.
The Water Bureau has been investing in seismic improvements to meet the goals of the Oregon Resilience Plan. The Bull Run Treatment projects are another seismic resilience project, with a facility built to modern seismic code and replacing some vulnerable pipe segments to lessen the consequences of a serious earthquake on our drinking water system.
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Since 2017, the Portland Water Bureau has detected low levels of Cryptosporidium from routine monitoring. Monitoring results were received from the Bull Run Watershed intake for Cryptosporidium, a potentially disease-causing microorganism. In the 50-liters sampled daily, between Sunday, Dec. 1 and Wednesday, Dec. 4, one Cryptosporidium oocyst was detected in each of the samples collected on Dec. 1 and Dec. 4. Cryptosporidium was not detected in the samples collected on Dec. 2 or Dec. 3. Prior to these detections, Cryptosporidium was last detected from the Bull Run Watershed intake on Nov. 19, 2019.
The Bull Run watershed is Portland’s primary source of drinking water. The Portland Water Bureau does not currently treat for Cryptosporidium, but is required to do so under drinking water regulations. Portland is working to install filtration by September 2027 under a compliance schedule with Oregon Health Authority. In the meantime, Portland Water Bureau is implementing interim measures such as watershed protection and additional monitoring to protect public health. Consultation with public health officials has concluded that at this time, customers do not need to take any additional precautions.
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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (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 Protection Agency (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 Domestic 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.
The public and the media are encouraged to view all sampling results posted to the City’s website at portlandoregon.gov/water/cryptoresults. The bureau will notify the media and public immediately should further test results indicate a risk to public health and precautions are necessary.
Customers with questions regarding water quality can call the Water Line at 503-823-7525.
There are a million ways that water powers the Rose City. Some are obvious and visible. Others are more behind the scenes and overlooked. For Issa Hassan and the 4 Worlds United Soccer Alliance, having easy access to clean, reliable water allows them to focus on other important things in life like community, family, and connection.
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