Clean water. It’s one of our basic needs, but how much do you actually know about the water flowing from your home’s taps?
The Portland Water Bureau released its latest Drinking Water Quality Report this week, shedding light on water sources, investments in infrastructure, reported contaminants, treatment methods, lead testing, and more spanning the 2022 calendar year.
- Portland has two primary water sources: the Bull Run Watershed and the Columbia South Shore Well Field.
- Water pH ranges between 8.0 and 9.0.
- Portland water is not filtered, but a filtration plant to treat Bull Run water for Cryptosporidium is in the works.
- Fluoride occurs naturally in low levels and is not added to Portland water.
- Bull Run water is “soft,” while local groundwater is considered “moderately hard.”
The Environmental Protection Agency has regulations limiting contaminants in public drinking water. “Contaminants” can be microbial (think: viruses and bacteria), inorganic (think: salt and minerals), pesticides, herbicides, organic chemicals, or radioactive elements (think: radon).
Portland Water Bureau monitors drinking water for over 200 contaminants. The 2023 drinking water report showed no levels that exceeded EPA limits; most actually met or fell below federal goal rates.
The biggest factor determining how much lead is in Portland drinking water is plumbing. At-risk homes and buildings include those plumbed with lead-based solder between 1970 and 1985.
There are no known lead components in Portland’s public water system. The water bureau works closely with the small percentage of homes with known levels of lead in their plumbing to ensure they’re getting safe drinking water. A new corrosion control facility is also working to further reduce potential levels of lead.
Request a free test kit to see if there’s lead in your drinking water by calling (503) 988-4000 or filling out an online form. Call the Oregon Health Authority at (503) 693-4100 or send an email to learn about accredited labs that provide additional testing services.