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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Water Bureau

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Customer Service: 503-823-7770


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Important Information About Lead in Drinking Water

Regional water providers in the Bull Run service area found elevated levels of lead in drinking water in some high-risk homes and buildings known to have lead in their pipes. These water samples are from 112 worst-case homes known to have lead solder. When more than 10 percent of these homes are above the action level it triggers an exceedance. In the most recent round of sampling 14 of these 112 homes were above the action level of 15ppb.

Lead is rarely found in Portland’s source water and has not been used in service lines. The major source of lead in tap water in Portland is the corrosive action of water on building plumbing components that contain lead, such as faucets and lead-based solder. However, by far the biggest sources of exposure to lead are from lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust or soil.

More than 19,000 children have been tested for lead in Multnomah County in the past three years and only 184 were confirmed with elevated blood lead levels. None of these investigations identified water as the main source of exposure.

The Portland Water Bureau has been treating Bull Run drinking water to make it less corrosive by raising the pH of the water. This pH adjustment reduces lead in tap water up to 70 percent. The Portland Water Bureau is concluding a study to help determine what additional improvements can be made to minimize the corrosion of lead in household plumbing.

The following are some of the steps you can take to reduce your exposure to lead in your water including:

  • Run your water for 30 seconds to 2 minutes to flush out lead or until it becomes colder.
  • Use cold water for cooking and preparing baby formula.
  • Test your water for lead.

Customers are encouraged to contact the LeadLine at or 503-988-4000 to learn more about reducing exposure to all sources of lead or to request a free lead in water test from participating providers.

Please click here for Frequently Asked Questions about the October 2016 exceedance of the Lead & Copper Rule.


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