Chlorine shortage on West Coast may affect Oregon water

Oregon

'Portland water remains safe to drink'

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A chlorine shortage affecting the West Coast is “more extensive than previously known and may affect much of the West Coast,” officials with the Portland Water Bureau said Thursday.

However, officials said they have enough chlorine for the “next several weeks” and that “Portland water remains safe to drink.”

Portland Water Bureau: How we’re responding to chlorine shortage

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management said “tap water throughout the state remains clean and safe.”

OEM Deputy Director Matt Marheine said, “The public can continue to use water for drinking, cooking and bathing, but may consider limiting outdoor use to extend the state’s current chlorine supply.”

The chlorine shortage does not impact all Oregon water and sewer utilities, they said.

The shortage is linked to a Longview chlorine manufacturer, Westlake, that had a critical piece of equipment unexpectedly fail.

OEM said Westlake is working to bring the Longview plant back online quickly and is looking at options to alleviate the chlorine shortage in the short term.

The PWB was notified of the issue on June 11. But on Tuesday, PWB learned the supply chain interruption was more extensive than first thought.

In a statement, City Commissioner Mingus Mapps — who is in charge of the Bureau of Environmental Services and is the water commissioner — said the water is safe to drink and the rivers are safe for swimming and recreation.

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Benson Bubblers in Portland (KOIN, file)

“We are working with partners at the state and regional level to manage this West Coast chlorine supply shortage,” Mapps said. “I’m committed to keeping you informed at every step of the way.”

There are options the PWB has. They could make some operational changes and activate groundwater if necessary. They already “lowered our chlorine target to 1.8 mg/L, which continues treating water at a safe level and meets treatment requirements,” officials said.

The Portland Water Bureau said they have two high-quality drinking water sources that are available to use in potential emergencies.

Authorities urge Portland water users to use it wisely.

The Joint Water Commission, which supplies water for 450,000 customers in Washington County, issued a similar release.

“Protection of public health is the JWC’s highest priority. The water produced by the JWC and served by its partners remains clean and safe to drink. The JWC can continue to adequately treat water during this time,” said JWC General Manager Niki Iverson.

They said the JWC has enough chlorine supplies for more than a month, “projected to be sufficient for the chlorine supplier to resume supply.”

In a release, Lake Oswego and Tigard officials said the tap water is safe to drink but asks residents to “voluntarily reduce their indoor and outdoor water usage” to help extend their current supply of chlorine.

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Jamie Downey, right, and Joe Feuerborn leap into the Willamette River with the downtown skyline visible across the river in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

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