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Portland Water Bureau

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

GENERAL INFORMATION: 503-823-7404

1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97204

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Cryptosporidium Detected in Bull Run Drinking Water

The Portland Water Bureau received results today from a sample collected on Sept. 27 that was positive for Cryptosporidium, a potentially disease-causing microorganism. The detection was from a sample collected from the Bull Run Watershed intake as part of ongoing monitoring for Cryptosporidium. One Cryptosporidium oocyst was detected in the 10-liter sample. This detection follows a detection of a single oocyst from a 10-liter sample collected on Sunday, Sept 24. Eighteen other 10-liter samples collected between Sept 24 and Sept. 27 were all negative for Cryptosporidium

 “Even from a highly protected watershed such as the Bull Run, it is not unusual to detect low levels of Cryptosporidium from wildlife sources. We continuously monitor the rate of human illness caused by Cryptosporidium and will know if there is an increase” said Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Paul Lewis. “Fortunately, there has never been a documented outbreak of Cryptosporidium linked to Bull Run water.”

Cryptosporidium detections at these low levels are not expected to result in an impact to public health. Public health surveillance during and after a series of low-level detections from January through March of this year did not see an increase in Cryptosporidium related disease. While the general public is not being advised to take additional precautions, as always, the bureau recommends that people with severely weakened immune systems seek specific advice from their health care providers about drinking water.

“Together with our public health partners at Multnomah County, we continue to believe Bull Run water is safe to drink,” said Portland Water Bureau Administrator Michael Stuhr. “We will continue monitoring our water and working with our health partners to make the best decisions for public health in our community.”

Portland Water Bureau has been monitoring for Cryptosporidium under conditions of a variance for the treatment of Cryptosporidium issued by its regulators at the Oregon Health Authority. As a result of the detections earlier this year, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) informed the Portland Water Bureau that the variance would be revoked no later than Nov. 22, 2017. On Aug. 2, City Council directed the bureau to construct a water filtration plant to meet the treatment requirements. The Portland Water Bureau will submit a schedule for construction of a filtration plant and ongoing measures to continue to protect public health to OHA by Oct. 11.

The bureau will continue to sample the Bull Run for Cryptosporidium; gather information about these detections; and notify the public, its regulators and health officials of any additional detections.

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

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

Success on the Spillway: Repairing the Dam 2 Spillway

Industrial painters on dam spillway

The Water Bureau industrial painting crew knows how to hustle.

A three-person team, the Water Bureau industrial painters are responsible for cleaning, painting, and maintaining a variety of critical Water Bureau infrastructure: water tanks, offline reservoirs, and dams and spillways inside the Bull Run Watershed. Basically, anything that sits above ground or in a vault and delivers water will get a visit from our industrial painting crew.

Painters paint spillway

The Water Bureau painters’ most recent challenge was washing, repairing, and re-caulking the Dam 2 spillway. The Dam 2 spillway carries overflow water from Dam 2 downstream to the Bull Run River. Last year, the Water Bureau Operations workgroup developed a three-year plan to replace and repair the caulking that holds together the large concrete slabs that make up the spillway.

Then, early this year, the Oroville Dam incident occurred.

This well-reported incident prompted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the federal agency responsible for overseeing the safety of our country’s dams, to increase inspection schedules for several spillways across the country, including the Water Bureau’s own Dam 2 spillway. After working alongside FERC officials to assess the repair plan, it was decided that—in light of the Oroville Dam incident, and due to the age of the Dam 2 spillway—the bureau would accelerate spillway re-caulking before the rainy winter months.

Spillway repairs

This schedule adjustment meant that the entire spillway would have to be washed, repaired, and re-caulked within one year, as opposed to the original three-year schedule.

Cue the scramble. Our industrial painters hustled throughout the summer, working through hot weather on even hotter concrete, with some days reaching more than 105 degrees.

The work involved pressure washing the spillway, removing the old caulking material, installing new foam backing to prevent caulk seepage, and caulking along the seam of the entire Dam 2 spillway.

The painting crew’s hustle paid off. They finished the repair work within two months. One full year ahead of schedule.

Boom.

*drops paintbrush*

Tour the Washington Park Reservoir Improvement Project

Washington Park Reservoir Improvement Project Tour

The Portland Water Bureau will be conducting two public tours, on site, of the Washington Park Reservoir Improvement Project. This is your opportunity to learn about construction methods, future activities, schedule, and much more. Tours will be led by the project manager and principal engineer.

The Portland Water Bureau is rebuilding the Washington Park reservoirs, a project that continues through 2024.  Washington Park reservoirs were originally built in 1894. When completed, this project will supply water to Portland’s west side and serve more than 360,000 people, including all downtown businesses and residents, 20 schools, five hospital complexes, and more than 60 parks. This system of water conveyance and storage makes Portland a livable, and thriving community, ensuring public health and economic viability.  

Tour Information

Tours will be conducted Saturday, October 7, 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. There is room for 20 people per tour. Each person must register separately to attend a tour. Slots will fill quickly, so register now!

Come prepared for the day. Participants will be touring an active construction site and should be prepared to navigate stairs, elevation changes, rough surfaces, etc. Be sure to wear closed-toed boots or sturdy shoes and weather appropriate clothing. Safety vests, hardhats and safety glasses which will be provided.

Questions?

Contact Rhetta Drennan at 503-823-3028 or Rhetta.Drennan@portlandoregon.gov

Cryptosporidium Detected In Bull Run Drinking Water; Monitoring Continues

Quote - Dr. Paul LewisThe Portland Water Bureau received results today from a water sample collected on Sept. 24 that was positive for Cryptosporidium, a potentially disease-causing microorganism. The sample had one oocyst ofCryptosporidium detected in a 10-liter sample.

At this time, the bureau and public health partners at Multnomah County continue to believe Bull Run water is safe to drink.

To reduce the risk of the public’s exposure to Cryptosporidium, the bureau continues to monitor forCryptosporidium, protect the watershed, notify the public, and work with its health partners to make the best decisions for public health.

Background

The Portland Water Bureau has monitored for Cryptosporidium under conditions of a variance for the treatment ofCryptosporidium issued by its regulators at the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). As a result of the detections earlier this year, the Oregon Health Authority informed the Portland Water Bureau that the variance from treating for Cryptosporidium would be revoked no later than Nov. 22, 2017. On Aug. 2, City Council directed the bureau to construct a water filtration plant to meet the Cryptosporidium treatment requirements. The Portland Water Bureau will submit a schedule for construction of a filtration plant and ongoing measures to continue to protect public health to OHA by Oct. 11.

Learn more about the Cryptosporidium detections earlier this year. You can also view all sampling results posted to the City’s website at www.portlandoregon.gov/water/cryptoresults.

As always, the bureau recommends that people with severely weakened immune systems seek specific advice from their health care providers about drinking water. There is no need for the general public to take additional precautions.

Bull Run Water Remains Safe to Drink

Current evidence from public health data, monitoring results, and watershed investigations, as well as extensive consultation with public health officials, have provided confidence in the continued safety of the Bull Run water.

“We continually monitor for human illness caused by Cryptosporidium but since past detections of Cryptosporidium oocysts in Bull Run water have not been associated with an increase in human disease, I do not expect it to be different this time,” said Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Paul Lewis.

Next Steps

The bureau will continue to sample the Bull Run for Cryptosporidium; gather information about these detections; and notify its regulators, health officials, and the public of any additional detections.

You can refer to Frequently Asked Questions to find answers to questions about Cryptosporidium and treatment.

Using Real-World Data to Replace and Maintain Aging Water Pipes

Water main break

With cooler weather on the way, main break season is just around the corner.

“Main break season” is Water Bureau talk for when colder temperatures settle into the Portland area, sometimes causing old water pipes to crack and break.

Our maintenance and construction crews respond to an average of 200 main breaks a year and about six miles of water pipe is proactively replaced throughout the year. When field crews respond to breaks, they also collect information used by the Asset Management Branch to predict which pipes are likely to need to be replaced and when.

A Field Guide to Water Main Breaks

Water Bureau Civil Engineer Jeremiah Hess recently wrote a preview for an in-the-works visual field guide to pipe breaks. The field guide is the result of a project funded by the Water Research Foundation and includes data from Water Bureau field crews. Bureau Public Works Supervisors Beau and Dave provided break data for the visual field guide.

You can read Jeremiah’s article in the July-September 2017 edition of Advances in Water Research.

The field guide that Jeremiah previews is titled The Practical and Visual Guide to Common Pipe Failures. It will include photos and diagrams to help maintenance and construction field staff—the eyes and ears of a utility—more accurately identify main breaks and suggest causes. The guide also provides a standard set of names for types of pipe breaks. The purpose of the guide is to improve the use of field data to make better predictions about the water system. 

How We Care for Portland’s Water System

Portland’s water system is a network of reservoirs, pipes, pumps, tanks, valves, meters, and other equipment—each of these assets has its own life span and way of wearing out or failing.

The Water Bureau asset management team oversees finding the most cost-effective and efficient way to manage the Water Bureau’s assets, through maintenance, repair, and replacement. Learn more about our asset management program and how our crews respond water main breaks.