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Portland Water Officials Propose Lead Timeline Under EPA Pressure

The city of Portland has two drinking water reservoirs in the Bull Run watershed.

The city of Portland has two drinking water reservoirs in the Bull Run watershed.

Cassandra Profita/OPB/EarthFix

Oregon health officials received a plan Monday intended to address Portland’s problems with lead in drinking water.

The Portland Water Bureau is working to finish a study by next year into how corrosive water affects the region’s lead problem. But even under its proposed faster timeline, major changes wouldn’t happen until mid-2022.  

The Environmental Protection Agency reviewed the pervasive lead results in Portland schools in a recent meeting with city and state officials. The EPA responded last week asking them to follow a schedule that is “as aggressive as technically achievable.”  

A bureau spokesperson said the proposed “accelerated timeline” is as fast as “technically feasible.”

The Portland Water Bureau has found lead above — or very close to the federal lead limit — throughout its last three years of testing.  

The EPA says the corrosion study should be quick but will also consider possible unintended health effects of changes. The EPA wants more information from the state to see if more should be done sooner.

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