Deadline set for crypto filtration plant
The Portland Water Bureau must begin filtering Bull Run water to remove a potential disease-causing microorganism by Sept. 30, 2027.
Before the plant is completed and begins operation, the water bureau must make numerous efforts to detect the presence of cryptosporidium in the primary source of much of the region's drinking water, and notify both health officials and the public of all positive findings.
Those are among the requirements included in a bilateral compliance agreement between the water bureau and the Oregon Health Authority that was signed last Monday. The Dec. 18 agreement needed to be negotiated after the health authority announced it was revoking a variance previously granted to the water bureau from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules requiring Bull Run water to be treated for crypto, as it is commonly called.
The health authority granted the variance in 2012 because Bull Run water has historically been relatively free of crypto. Multnomah County health authorities say there is no proof anyone has ever been made sick by drinking it.
But the filtration plant designed to remove crypto from water was approved earlier this year by the City Council, at a potential price tag of $500 millon.
Many of the requirements in the agreement were already included in the variance, including notifying the public of crypto detections. The agreement also continues a program currently conducted by the water bureau to collect samples of animal scat in the Bull Run Watershed and test them for crypto, which is found in many animals and spread through their feces.
New requirements in the agreement include:
• Slightly more frequent public notification requirements with specific required language.
• A commitment to work with Oregon Health Authority and public health partners on public health surveillance activities and to address a public health risk if the health authority determines that one is occurring.
• Development of an outreach plan for vulnerable populations and annual report on outreach activities.
• Providing the health authority with quarterly status reports on monitoring results, watershed activities and construction activities
Most strains of crypto do not cause people to become sick. The most dangerous strains are carried by livestock and humans. Livestock and unauthorized visitors are banned in the watershed.
Since the beginning of the year, crypto has been detected in Bull Run water 35 times.
Find out more
• Learn more and track the crypto monitoring results at tinyurl.com/y7vh4fy4
• Read the agreement at preview.tinyurl.com/y7h9hdx8
• Read a previous Portland Tribune story on the issue at preview.tinyurl.com/y8da3bo2