Portland Water Bureau
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News Releases
Cryptosporidium Monitoring Update: Detections from routine monitoring in the Bull Run. Customers do not need to take any additional precautions at this time. - 02/16/24

Since 2017, the Portland Water Bureau has detected low levels of Cryptosporidium from routine monitoring of source water. The Portland Water Bureau received results from ongoing monitoring from the Bull Run Watershed intake for Cryptosporidium, a potentially disease-causing microorganism. In the 50 liters sampled each day from February 11 to February 14, one Cryptosporidium oocyst was detected in the sample collected on February 13. Cryptosporidium was not detected in the samples collected on February 11, February 12, or February 14. Prior to this detection, Cryptosporidium was last detected from the Bull Run Watershed intake on January 24, 2024.

The Bull Run watershed is Portland’s primary source of drinking water. The Portland Water Bureau does not currently treat for Cryptosporidium, but is required to do so under drinking water regulations. Portland is working to install filtration by September 30, 2027 under a compliance schedule with the Oregon Health Authority. In the meantime, Portland Water Bureau is implementing interim measures such as watershed protection and additional monitoring to protect public health. Consultation with public health officials has concluded that at this time, customers do not need to take any additional precautions. 

Exposure to Cryptosporidium can cause cryptosporidiosis, a serious illness. Symptoms can include diarrhea, vomiting, fever and stomach pain. People with healthy immune systems recover without medical treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with severely weakened immune systems are at risk for more serious disease. Symptoms may be more severe and could lead to serious or life-threatening illness. Examples of people with weakened immune systems include those with AIDS, those with inherited diseases that affect the immune system, and cancer and transplant patients who are taking certain immunosuppressive drugs.

The Environmental Protection Agency advises that customers who are immunocompromised and receive their drinking water from the Bull Run Watershed consult with their healthcare professional about the safety of drinking the tap water. The Portland Water Bureau and Burlington, City of Gresham, City of Sandy, City of Tualatin, Green Valley, GNR, Hideaway Hills, Lake Grove, Lorna Domestic Water, Lusted, Palatine Hill, Pleasant Home, Raleigh, Rockwood, Skyview Acres, Tualatin Valley, Two Rivers, Valley View and West Slope Water Districts receive all or part of their drinking water supply from Bull Run. To learn if your drinking water comes from Bull Run, please contact your local drinking water provider.

The public and the media are encouraged to view all sampling results posted to the City’s website at portland.gov/water/cryptoresults. The bureau will notify the media and public immediately should further test results indicate a risk to public health and precautions are necessary.

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

About the Portland Water Bureau

The Portland Water Bureau serves water to almost a million people in the Portland area. Portland’s water system includes two great water sources, 53 tanks and reservoirs, and 2,200 miles of pipes. With 600 employees working on everything from water treatment to customer service, the Water Bureau is committed to serving excellent water every minute of every day.

Cryptosporidium Monitoring Update: Detections from routine monitoring in the Bull Run. Customers do not need to take any additional precautions at this time. - 01/26/24

Since 2017, the Portland Water Bureau has detected low levels of Cryptosporidium from routine monitoring of source water. The Portland Water Bureau received results from ongoing monitoring from the Bull Run Watershed intake for Cryptosporidium, a potentially disease-causing microorganism. In the 50 liters sampled each day from January 21 to January 24, one Cryptosporidium oocyst was detected in each of the samples collected on January 22, January 23, and January 24. Cryptosporidium was not detected in the sample collected on January 21. Prior to this detection, Cryptosporidium was last detected from the Bull Run Watershed intake on December 31, 2023.

The Bull Run watershed is Portland’s primary source of drinking water. The Portland Water Bureau does not currently treat for Cryptosporidium, but is required to do so under drinking water regulations. Portland is working to install filtration by September 30, 2027 under a compliance schedule with the Oregon Health Authority. In the meantime, Portland Water Bureau is implementing interim measures such as watershed protection and additional monitoring to protect public health. Consultation with public health officials has concluded that at this time, customers do not need to take any additional precautions. 

Exposure to Cryptosporidium can cause cryptosporidiosis, a serious illness. Symptoms can include diarrhea, vomiting, fever and stomach pain. People with healthy immune systems recover without medical treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with severely weakened immune systems are at risk for more serious disease. Symptoms may be more severe and could lead to serious or life-threatening illness. Examples of people with weakened immune systems include those with AIDS, those with inherited diseases that affect the immune system, and cancer and transplant patients who are taking certain immunosuppressive drugs.

The Environmental Protection Agency advises that customers who are immunocompromised and receive their drinking water from the Bull Run Watershed consult with their healthcare professional about the safety of drinking the tap water. The Portland Water Bureau and Burlington, City of Gresham, City of Sandy, City of Tualatin, Green Valley, GNR, Hideaway Hills, Lake Grove, Lorna Domestic Water, Lusted, Palatine Hill, Pleasant Home, Raleigh, Rockwood, Skyview Acres, Tualatin Valley, Two Rivers, Valley View and West Slope Water Districts receive all or part of their drinking water supply from Bull Run. To learn if your drinking water comes from Bull Run, please contact your local drinking water provider.

The public and the media are encouraged to view all sampling results posted to the City’s website at portland.gov/water/cryptoresults. The bureau will notify the media and public immediately should further test results indicate a risk to public health and precautions are necessary.

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

About the Portland Water Bureau

The Portland Water Bureau serves water to almost a million people in the Portland area. Portland’s water system includes two great water sources, 53 tanks and reservoirs, and 2,200 miles of pipes. With 600 employees working on everything from water treatment to customer service, the Water Bureau is committed to serving excellent water every minute of every day.

Home Plumbing graphic
Home Plumbing graphic
Portland Water Bureau treatment investments significantly improve lead levels in water (Photo) - 01/25/24

Improved drinking water treatment benefits all, especially people in homes with lead plumbing

The Portland Water Bureau’s latest investment in drinking water treatment is significantly reducing lead in drinking water, recent regulator-reviewed data show. 

In 2022, the bureau implemented Improved Corrosion Control Treatment. After multiple rounds of testing, the Oregon Health Authority has confirmed that the bureau’s corrosion control treatment for lead is “optimized,” bringing the Water Bureau in full compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead and Copper Rule. We can now say with confidence that this $20.6 million investment is producing results that benefit the region.

“This is the realization of years of work and important investments to reduce our community’s risk associated with lead in home plumbing,” said Water Bureau Director Gabriel Solmer. “The test results show us that those investments are paying off.”

For most Portlanders, the risk of experiencing lead in their drinking water was already low. Unlike other places in the country, Portland never used lead service lines and worked to remove potential sources of lead from the drinking water system. All known lead service connectors were removed from the water system by 1998. 

However, a small number of homes in our community have lead in their home plumbing. In Portland, lead in drinking water is mainly from the corrosion of lead in home and building plumbing materials, such as copper pipes with lead solder (most commonly used between 1970 and 1985) and brass components and faucets installed before 2014.

Background

Portland has treated the drinking water to reduce lead levels since 1998, but the most recent treatment upgrade to address lead in drinking water came in 2022. The Water Bureau worked with experts in the drinking water industry to design and install improved corrosion control treatment. By increasing the water’s pH and alkalinity, the improved treatment reduces corrosion of home and building plumbing, which better protects our water from lead in plumbing materials. 

The new treatment was brought online in April 2022.  As our improved corrosion control measures ramped up, we saw lower lead-in-water levels from our test sites. Our most recent test results from homes with lead in plumbing were 6.1 and 7.7 parts per billion (ppb), well below the federal action level of 15 ppb.

By upgrading drinking water treatment to reduce corrosion, the Water Bureau has taken a significant step toward reducing lead levels in drinking water for all users, especially for those with lead-soldered pipes or lead-containing components in their homes. 

“This result really validates the investments we’ve made in the water system to protect the community,” Solmer said. “Every time ratepayers pay their bills, they are funding efforts like this one to keep our drinking water safe.” 

Work continues to inform the community about the risks of lead:

  • The bureau will continue to perform regular lead testing and inform folks of ways to protect themselves and their families. 
  • The Water Bureau will continue to offer free lead-in-water testing through the Leadline at leadline.org.
  • There are many other ways that people can be exposed to lead, including lead paint. Leadline.org offers a wealth of information in multiple languages. Everyone, especially people with infants and young children, should learn about these risks so they can take simple steps to reduce exposure.

About the Portland Water Bureau

The Portland Water Bureau serves water to almost a million people in the Portland area. Portland’s water system includes two great water sources, 54 tanks and reservoirs, and 2,250 miles of pipes. With 600 employees working on everything from water treatment to customer service, the Water Bureau is committed to serving excellent water every minute of every day. 

Attached Media Files: PDF Version , Home Plumbing graphic