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City must say how it will comply with U.S. EPA rules before variance is revoked by Nov. 22

PORTLAND TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - The Bull Run Reservoir in the Bull Run Watershed.The Portland Water Bureau has submitted its plan for complying with U.S. EPA rules regarding a potentially deadly organism in the Bull Run Watershed to the Oregon Health Authority.

The Oct. 9 letter from PWB Administrator Michael Stuhr says the City Council unanimously voted on Aug. 2 to build a filtration plant that will remove any traces of Cryptosporidium from the water before it reaches customers.

Crypto, as the organism is commonly called, is found in human and animal feces. Because the plant is not estimated to be completed until February 2028, the bureau will take the following interim steps:

• Continue monitor Bull Run water for the presence of crypto, as the organism is commonly called.

• Report all finding to OHA and increase the monitoring schedule if crypto is detected.

• Strengthen protections to minimize crypto in the watershed by monitoring known trespass points and making all reasonable efforts to eliminate unauthoritzed entry.

• Ensuring that human sewage is contained within permanent sanitation facilities and portable toilets located 200 feet from waterways wherever possible.

• Propose a plan to conduct field inspections and water and scat sampling within the watershed, including semi-annual sampling in high risk areas.

• Prompt public notification of any positive crypto findings.

The filtration plant is currently estimated at up to $500 million. A schedule included in the letter says planning will start in November 2017, construction will begin in April 2023 and compliance will be achieved in September 2027. Construction would be completed in February 2028.

The PWB also has the option of switching to backup groundwater wells along the Columbia River where crypto is naturally filtered out of the water.

The OHA had granted the PWB a variance from the EPA rules because Bull Run Water has historically been so clean. But after crypto was repeatedly discovered in water samples early this year, the OHA revoked the variance effective Nov. 22, 2017 and required PWB to submit a compliance plan with interim steps.

The PWB can be read at www.portlandoregon.gov/water/article/658474.

A PWB web page with more information can be found at www.portlandoregon.gov/water/75112?ref=homepage.

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