Dry and hot: Portland activates groundwater supply

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The dry spring, above-average temperatures and the long-term weather forecasts have prompted the Portland Water Bureau to activate its groundwater wells to provide water to its customers beginning Wednesday.

Water from the Columbia South Shore Well Field will supplement the Bull Run watershed, a combination “capable of meeting Portland’s water needs throughout the summer,” officials said in a release.

As of June 17, there are about 8 billion gallons of water in the Bull Run reservoirs, officials said.

The Bull Run reservoir as seen on the Portland Water Bureau website, June 19, 2018

The notification is not required, PWB said, but the agency alerts customers and “sensitive water users” whenever it activates the groundwater. The public will be notified when the water returns to Bull Run water exclusively “or if there is a significant change in the drinking water blend.”

Users may notice a “slight increase in water hardness” when the combination is put into place on Wednesday, officials said. However, it may take as long as 2 weeks for the groundwater to move through the distribution system.

The groundwater from the Columbia South Shore Well Field will contribute as much as 35% of the supply and might be increased depending on weather or demand. The water meets or surpassess all the federal and state drinking water regulations, PWB said.

An undated photo of the Columbia South Shore Well Field. (City of Portland via the Portland Tribune)

In a statement, PWB Director Michael Stuhr said:

“We deliver safe and reliable drinking water to almost one million customers. At the end of a dry spring, it’s tremendously comforting to know that we can turn to our Columbia South Shore Well Field and supply all our customers’ needs.”

Stuhr told KOIN 6 News they have no expectation of a drought in Portland. All they’re doing is adding in the aquifers to the Bull Run reservoir supply, so, he said, there is no danger at all of running out of water.

Anyone who wants more information can call the Water Line at 503.823.7525

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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