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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 11/06/20 Cryptosporidium Update

Since 2017, the Portland Water Bureau has detected low levels of Cryptosporidium from routine monitoring. These detections are more common during the rainy season and not unexpected after the recent rains. Results from recent monitoring were received from the Bull Run Watershed intake for Cryptosporidium, a potentially disease-causing microorganism. One Cryptosporidium oocyst was detected in the 50-liters collected on Wednesday, Nov. 4. Prior to this detection, Cryptosporidium was last detected from the Bull Run Watershed intake on Oct. 18, 2020, when one oocyst was detected from the 50-liters sampled.

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.

ABOUT THE PORTLAND WATER BUREAU

The Portland Water Bureau serves water to almost a million people in the Portland area. Portland’s water system includes two great water sources, 53 tanks and reservoirs, and 2,200 miles of pipes. With 600 employees working on everything from water treatment to customer service, the Water Bureau is committed to serving excellent water every minute of every day.

Customer Alert: System maintenance will affect bill pay site

Payments on our view/pay bill website will be affected by system maintenance two different times in the next week.

On Sunday October 18th, payments made on our view/pay bill website and 24-hour automated payment line between 2:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. may not post on your account until later in the day.

On Tuesday October 20th, between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., customers will be unable to access our view/pay bill website or our 24-hour automated payment line. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Preparing for Climate Change

Climate changegroundwater pump station at sunset in the Pacific Northwest has become more apparent than ever before. Portland has experienced more days above 90 °F in the past decade than in any other decade since the 1930s.  The entire Pacific Northwest has warmed about 2 °F since 1900, and 2015 still stands out as Oregon’s warmest year on record. 

Droughts and natural disasters have been happening throughout history, but what were once-in-a-lifetime events are happening more frequently. The reality of a warming planet and changing weather patterns are clear. It’s a future the Portland Water Bureau has worked decades to prepare for.  

“With two water sources capable of meeting base water demands, Portland is well equipped to face the most pressing drinking water challenges of climate change,” said Edward Campbell, Director of Resource Protection and Planning. “The Bull Run River and the Columbia South Shore Well Field aquifers provide long term flexibility and adaptability for the Water Bureau in meeting its core mission. ” 

Kavita Heyn is the bureau’s Climate Science and Adaptation Program Manager. As a strategist leading  the bureau’s work on climate change, she collaborates with a wide array of people at the bureau, in the City, and throughout the water industry. Portland is seen as an industry leader in its climate adaptation work in part because of Kavita’s active collaboration with leading peer utilities via the Water Utility Climate Alliance.

Guiding the Water Bureau’s ongoing work is the Five-Year Strategic Plan, which was completed in 2019. It takes a risk-based approach to identifying vulnerabilities facing the water system. Director Gabe Solmer says climate work is one of her chief priorities.  “We look at what those risks are and we kind of flip around that negative to look at what are the strategies we’re going to use to mitigate those risks,” Solmer said. “We can take a closer look and put critical importance on the climate change work that we do so well at the bureau and the actions that we take that have a real impact.” 

SPUR Small Business Spotlight: Escuela Viva

A woman and three kids

Angie Garcia opened Escuela Viva when she was in need of child care for her two-year-old daughter. Sixteen years later, the dual-language pre-school in North and Southeast Portland is serving 70 families through the pandemic. It is operating as an emergency child care for essential workers.

“There are many amazing things about our childhood education program. Some people might think it’s the dual language but that’s just the icing on the cake. Our community is the cake,” said Garcia.

Despite strong community support, Garcia says Escuela Viva has been struggling to stay afloat because of the stringent and costly protocols that the school must adhere to and the changes in enrollment since the pandemic began.

“We’re an essential part of the infrastructure. If we fail,” Garcia said, “where will the workforce take their children when the economy opens back up?”

Garcia estimates that the SPUR bill credits will cover her sewer/stormwater/water bill for the rest of the year. “To find out we were selected was wonderful,” she said. “We’re struggling but very blessed to have the community’s support.”

Escuela Viva is one of more than 500 small businesses that received one-time credits through the Small Business Program for Utility Relief (SPUR).

Customer Alert: Temporary disruption to online payment system

Please note that on the morning of Sunday September 20th, between 2:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m., customers will be unable to access our view/pay bill website or our 24-hour automated payment line due to system maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.