PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A major electrical failure at a Longview-based company is to blame for a shortage of chlorine used to treat drinking water in the region.
The Oregon Office of Emergency Management doesn’t know how long the chlorine shortage will last but it anticipates the Westlake Chemical plant will be offline until at least the end of June.
The plant supplies chlorine to Oregon, Washington, Idaho and northern California. This shortage comes on the heels of a national chlorine shortage caused by a fire that destroyed a large chlorine producer in Louisiana in August 2020.
Officials have confirmed that tap water in the region is still safe to drink and Oregon has enough chlorine in stock to continue treating water for a couple of weeks.
Gabe Solmer, the director of the Portland Water Bureau, said they have adequate supplies and have more deliveries scheduled. Solmer said they also have backup plans in place if the shortage stretches longer than a few weeks.
“We can move to groundwater and use a blend of Bull Run and groundwater if necessary,” he said. “Also, we can pause optional activity so that we really prioritize water for people.”
Neither the Portland Water Bureau or the Tualatin Valley Water District in Washington County are placing restrictions on water usage at the moment.
“No need right now to go out and buy additional bottled water, there’s plenty of supply around the region and we’re actively keeping track of the situation,” said Joel Cary, the water resource manager with Tualatin Valley Water District.
But authorities are urging people to use water wisely and efficiently. Emergency management officials are asking customers to limit outdoor water usage for things watering lawns, washing cars and filling swimming pools.
The shortage doesn’t impact all Oregon water and sewer utilities since some utility companies have their own on-site chlorine generators.