Since the early 1960s, we’ve been fortunate to have a water quality testing laboratory, first in the Bull Run Watershed near the treatment facility, then for the last 23 years at the Interstate facility.
Currently, the lab has 13 full time employees: a laboratory manager, a laboratory supervisor, two laboratory coordinators, five laboratory analytical specialists, and four laboratory analysts. These lab experts are in charge of testing Portland’s drinking water supply to ensure it is adhering to state and federal standards for water quality.
The laboratory is accredited to run drinking water analysis by the Oregon Health Authority. To maintain accreditation, the following is required by the lab:
- Pass two blind performance tests each year for each of 21 chemistry and 6 microbiology analytical methods with 122 analytes
- Maintain Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS)
- Have a Quality Manual
- Conduct an in-house assessment by accreditors every two years
- Document everything!
By the Numbers
- The lab performs approximately 30 analytical methods for drinking water and environmental water samples.
- The lab performs about 95 percent of the drinking water analyses that are required for compliance with state and federal drinking water regulations for the bureau.
- In a typical year, the lab processes approximately 11,000 samples for compliance and process control, producing approximately 58,000 sample results plus another 20,000 QC results. Samples are collected from the Bull Run Reservoirs and Lake, Headworks, Lusted Hill conduits, the groundwater system, the distribution system, water mains construction and repair projects, water system customers, and research projects. The research projects include studies of nitrification and corrosion potential in the distribution system.
- In 2016, the lab processed about 20,400 samples. The extra samples were mainly to test for lead in the water at schools, day care centers, city facilities, and individual customer homes and businesses.