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The Portland Water Bureau has complied with the Lead and Copper Rule since 1997 through its Lead Hazard Reduction Program.
The Lead and Copper Rule is a drinking water regulation intended to protect public health by reducing lead and copper levels in drinking water.
The Lead and Copper Rule focuses on water treatment to control corrosion of lead and copper from home and building plumbing materials into tap water. The rule required large water systems such as the Portland Water Bureau to provide optimal corrosion control treatment by 1997.
To determine optimal corrosion control treatment, the Water Bureau conducted a corrosion control study in 1994. The results indicated that raising the pH of our drinking water to 9.0 and adjusting the alkalinity to 20 mg/L may provide additional reduction of lead in water. In June 1994, the Portland City Council directed the Water Bureau to conduct a study to investigate alternatives to corrosion control treatment alone. Alternatives were evaluated based on several factors, including protection of public health, public and regulatory acceptance.
Based on the study, the Water Bureau developed the Lead Hazard Reduction Program in partnership with State and County health officials and community partners to comply with the Lead and Copper Rule. In 1997, the State of Oregon approved this program as optimal corrosion control treatment for lead and copper.
The Lead Hazard Reduction Program
The Lead Hazard Reduction Program is focused on reducing exposure to lead from all sources and has four parts:
Additional Water System Improvements
In addition to the Lead Hazard Reduction Program, the Water Bureau has initiated several efforts to reduce or remove sources of lead from the water system. The Portland Water Bureau:
In 2014, in anticipation of changes to the water system like decommissioning the open reservoirs, the Portland Water Bureau embarked on a water quality corrosion study. This study concluded in 2016 and the results indicated that additional treatment is the most effective means of further reducing lead in water from home and building plumbing. Learn more about upcoming treatment changes on our Treatment page.
The Portland Water Bureau continues to keep its regulators updated on the progress of the Lead Hazard Reduction Program and the steps to improve corrosion control. The bureau met with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in April and August 2016, to provide updates on Portland’s approach to complying with the Lead and Copper Rule and outlined its current water quality corrosion study and next steps for treatment improvements. In December 2016, the Portland Water Bureau submitted an Interim Lead Reduction Plan to OHA.
Links to relevant communications, including the presentations from the OHA and EPA meetings, are provided on the Key Documents page.
Additional information can be found in:
How the Portland Water Bureau Treats and Monitors for Lead and Copper in Drinking Water
Learn about the sources of lead in water, how to test your water, and how to reduce your exposure.
Information and links to partners providing free blood testing, lead poisoning prevention workshops, and more.
The Portland Lead Hazard Control Program provides financial assistance to reduce lead-based paint hazards in housing.
Under the federal Lead and Copper Rule, the Portland Water Bureau was required to identify the materials used in its distribution system.