The last time we talked about the Portland Water Bureau, the agency was welcoming good news. The city was well on its way to receiving a variance from the Safe Drinking Water Act, a law that would have required Portland to build a treatment facility to guard against cryptosporidium. The water-borne pathogen can cause severe illness and in some cases, even death. In 1993, cryptosporidium in the public water supply sickened hundreds of thousands of people in Milwaukie.
Now, trace elements of the parasite have been found in Portland water. Water Bureau officials say there is no threat from the tiny amounts of cyptosporidium found in water from the Bull Run watershed, which supplies most of the drinking water for the Metro area. City Commissioner Randy Leonard told The Oregonian the fact that cryptosporidium showed up in three water tests is an example of how the bureau is stepping up its monitoring.
The Oregon Health Authority has not yet finalized its approval of Portland’s variance, exempting the city from spending tens of millions of dollors to build a water treatment plant. They will come to a final decision by the end of the month. The OHA announced in late November that it would grant the variance and city officials are saying the recent discovery of cryptosporidium in the water will not derail those plans.
What’s your reaction to this news from the Portland Water Bureau? What questions do you have about it?