“The Best Drinking Water In The World”: 10 Facts from the 2010 Portland Drinking Water Quality Report

If you’ve ever lived in a place where the tap water is less than appetizing, you’ll be amazed at the quality of Portland’s drinking water. I never take it for granted that I’m able to drink cool, delicious water straight out of my kitchen faucet, and it’s not a surprise to find out that Portland’s water is some of the highest-quality drinking water in the world. This week the Portland Water Bureau released their 2010 Drinking Water Quality Report, which is essentially a nutritional label for the drinking water of Portland, and I’ve culled through the 11 pages of data for the most interesting and relevant facts for Portland homeowners and out-of-towners looking to buy Real Estate in the Portland metro area.

  • Portland’s water system begins at the Bull Run watershed, 22 miles east of Downtown Portland. Bull Run Lake and two reservoirs store rain, snow melt and stream runoff, and has been providing quality drinking water to Portland homes and businesses since January 2, 1895!
  • When the water in the Bull Run system is disturbed by large storm events or any other disruptions, the Portland Water Bureau shuts down the system and serves water from the Columbia South Shore Well Field to provide the safest water to Portland homes and businesses.
  • The Portland Water Bureau monitors Portland’s drinking water for more than 200 regulated and unregulated contaminants, and releases a detailed report every year to keep Portlanders educated about the quality of we drink.
  • More than 11,000 water samples are collected and tested each year from the five above-ground water reservoirs, one underground reservoir, seventy tanks, and eighty sampling stations around town.
  • Portland has a long history of groundwater protection. The wellhead protection area encompasses portions of Portland, Gresham, and Fairview. Together, these cities regulate businesses in the wellhead protection area to prevent hazardous materials spills that could seep into the ground.
  • Through all four quarters of 2009, none of the 25 unregulated contaminants (including flame retardants, explosives, pesticide constituents, and disinfection by-products) were found in any of the sample locations. This is great news for Portland Water Bureau customers.
  • Portland’s water is very soft, and the pH of the drinking water typically ranges from 7.2 to 8.2.
  • In December 2009, the Portland Water Bureau broke ground on the construction of a second underground reservoir at Powell Butte Nature Park in southeast Portland. When completed, the reservoir will provide an additional 50 million gallons of drinking water storage.
  • The Portland Water Bureau uses chlorine to disinfect water throughout the distribution system. The Bureau adds ammonia to the chlorine disinfectant to create a more stable disinfectant that minimizes the formation of disinfection byproducts.
  • The leading cause of copper and lead contamination in Portland drinking water is corrosion of household and commercial building plumbing systems. You can get your water tested for lead levels (for free!) by contacting the LeadLine at 503-988-4000 or www.leadline.org.
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