Portland's drinking water is good, according to latest report

Portland's drinking water is good, according to latest report
Photo courtesy R4vi on Flickr (Creative Commons).

PORTLAND, Ore. - Portlanders - how clean and fresh is the water coming out of your tap?

It's pretty good stuff, according to the city's latest Drinking Water Quality Report, which was released Friday.

"I hope everyone takes a moment to read the report online. This information is still extremely important," said Portland Water Bureau Administrator David Shaff. "Drinking water isn't something we should take for granted, and it takes a great deal of work to deliver it to each and every tap."

The city gets its water from the Bull Run Watershed, which contains two reservoirs. Test results on the Bull Run water supply found very low levels of naturally occurring microbial contaminants such as as Giardia lamblia, Cryptosporidium, fecal coliform bacteria and total coliform bacteria.

Now keep in mind that those types of contaminants are found in virtually all freshwater ecosystems and the Bull Run water supply is in compliance with state and federal regulations.

The only problem outlined in the report was when the city issued a boil water notice last July. That's when a sample from a reservoir at Washington Park tested positive for E. coli. The city drained the reservoir, ran further tests and then gave the all clear a few days later.

You'll find much more information in the city's report, which summarizes the water quality results for 2012. This is the first time that the Environmental Protection Agency has allowed the report to be published digitally, rather than sent to residents in the mail. However, Portland Water Bureau customers will be getting a postcard in their mailbox letting them know the report is available online.

If you'd like a paper copy, you can request one online or call the Portland Water Bureau's Water Line at (503) 823-7525 to ask that one be mailed to you. Translations of the report in Russian, Vietnamese, Chinese and Spanish are also available by calling that number.

On a final note, you can't talk about Portland's drinking water without bringing up fluoride, which was a big issue on the ballot for the May 21 Special Election. When it was all said and done, Portland voters said 'no' to the proposal.

It was the first time in 30 years that the issue had been put on the ballot in Portland. The last time was in 1980 when voters repealed a 1978 voter-approved decision to add fluoride to the water. This time around the City Council voted to fluoridate the water last September but those opposed to it quickly organized and successfully gathered enough signatures to get the issue on the ballot.

Of course, we could see this on the ballot again as pro-fluoride groups reevaluate their strategy and a new petition submitted to the City of Portland this week could be the next move. It's called the Portland Clean Water Measure.

If you'd like to explore the topic of fluoridation further, KATU Problem Solver Shellie Bailey-Shah delved into the issue before the election and produced a series of in-depth reports:

And did you know that the city of Salem has fluoridated its water since 1964? KATU Political Editor Steve Benham visited the plant that adds liquid fluorosilicic acid to Salem's water supply to see exactly how the process works.