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In 2006, the EPA established the Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule (LT2) to “reduce illness linked with the contaminant Cryptosporidium and other disease-causing microorganisms in drinking water.” This rule requires drinking water systems with surface water sources, such as the Portland Water Bureau, to treat for Cryptosporidium.
However, based on the results of a year-long intensive sampling for Cryptosporidium and due to the limited sources and low occurrence of Cryptosporidium in the Bull Run Watershed, the Portland Water Bureau was issued a variance from the requirements to treat for Cryptosporidium by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) on March 14, 2012.
As part of the conditions for the variance, the Portland Water Bureau has, among other protective measures, been monitoring for Cryptosporidium from the drinking water system intake in the Bull Run. From April 2012 through December 2016, no Cryptosporidium was detected. However, from January through March 2017, there were a series of detections for Cryptosporidium.
As a result, the OHA informed the Portland Water Bureau that the variance from treating for Cryptosporidium would be revoked by September 22, 2017.
On Aug. 1, Commissioner Nick Fish and Mayor Ted Wheeler requested a 90-day extension from OHA to engage stakeholders “in the development of the City’s compliance proposal.” OHA granted a 60-day extension to continue this public engagement and extend the revocation of the variance to no later than November 22, 2017.
On Aug. 2, Council voted to instruct the bureau to build a filtration treatment facility. Council further ordered the bureau to continue its commitment to protect the Bull Run Watershed, increase efforts to expand programming to support low-income households, and provide annual reports on the progress of this project.