Improved corrosion control facility now online
The Portland Water Bureau has improved water treatment to help protect the health of nearly a million people who drink Bull Run water. In April 2022, the Water Bureau brought Improved Corrosion Control Treatment online at our Lusted Hill Facility to further reduce potential levels of lead at customers’ taps.
In 2020, City Council approved Council approved a $24.4 million budget for the Improved Corrosion Control Treatment project. The project also delivered on City equity goals by providing work opportunities for minorities and women in the trades.
- More than $4 million, approximately 55 percent of the project’s hard construction costs, was subcontracted with firms certified by the state’s Certification Office for Business Inclusion and Diversity, exceeding the City’s 22 percent goal.
- More than11,000 hours were performed by minority and women apprentices and journey-level tradespeople, exceeding the City’s goal of 31 percent.
- One percent of the contract dollars will be invested in the City’s Community Opportunities and Enhancement Program that provides grants to increase diversity of business owners and tradespeople in Portland’s construction industry.
Benefits of corrosion control treatment
Elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. To support the health of our community, we are committed to helping limit exposure to lead in drinking water. With improved corrosion control, we have our strongest tool yet to help improve everyone’s health outcomes by further reducing potential exposure to lead in water.
In Portland, the main source of lead in water is corrosion (wearing away) of home plumbing. Lead is rarely found in our source waters, and we have no known lead service lines in the water system. However, when homes and buildings have lead in their plumbing and fixtures, lead can dissolve into the water. To reduce exposure to lead at the tap, we’ve been providing corrosion control treatment since 1997. Learn more about our Lead Hazard Reduction Program.
The Improved Corrosion Control Treatment schedule was approved by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) in 2017. The upgraded treatment was brought online in April 2022 ahead of the compliance deadline.
April 2017: Water Quality Corrosion Study
The study determined the main causes of lead in our water system.
May 2017: Compliance Agreement Approval
The compliance agreement approved by Oregon Health Authority.
June 2017: Submitted Recommendations to OHA
The study results were reviewed. Consultations with OHA resulted in recommendations for further treatment to Portland City Council.
July 2018: Corrosion Control Treatment Pilot Study
The pilot study was submitted to OHA for approval. The study evaluated the different treatment potentials and was the first step to implementing improved corrosion control.
July 2018: Corrosion Control Treatment Facility Design
New treatment facility design began.
April 2020: Corrosion Control Treatment Facility Plan Submittal
New treatment facility plans were submitted to OHA for review.
Summer 2020: Corrosion Control Treatment Facility Construction Start
Construction began in late summer of 2020 at our Lusted Hill facility.
April 2022: Corrosion Control Treatment Facility in Operation
The upgraded treatment was brought online.
Improved Corrosion Control Treatment is located at our Lusted Hill Treatment Facility. It includes a building for the new corrosion control treatment system, a water utility water pump station, and associated piping and support systems.
With improved corrosion control, our water is treated using two naturally occurring substances—sodium carbonate and carbon dioxide. These proven treatment methods are commonly used in food and beverage production. These treatment methods:
- Increase pH: Water with a higher pH is less acidic, or corrosive. This will result in less lead and other metals leaching from building plumbing into drinking water. The pH of our water will increase from 8.2 to at least 8.5.
- Increase alkalinity: Alkalinity, or hardness, is the level of minerals in the water. Increased alkalinity improves the stability of the pH, which increases the effectiveness of treatment. Improved corrosion control increases the alkalinity of our water to 25 mg/L.
Project Funding and Affordability
We're committed to making wise investments in the future of our drinking water. The Bull Run Treatment Projects are funded through business and residential customer rates and by borrowing money over time. To keep water rates affordable, we are gradually increasing rates each year to avoid rate spikes. We also continue to seek efficiencies in bureau operations and programs and explore financing options for the projects.
The budget for the Improved Corrosion Control Treatment Project was $24.4 million including a guaranteed maximum price of $17,989,637 from MWH Constructors to serve as the project’s construction manager/general contractor. The project was completed in April 2022 at our Lusted Hill facility to make Bull Run water less corrosive to lead that can be found in some home plumbing. The total cost when this project was completed was $20.4 million, which includes both design and construction costs.
Low-interest Federal Financing
We secured long-term, low-interest federal financing through the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act. Among other benefits, this financing will save ratepayers at least $247 million of debt service over the loan term.
Financial Assistance Program
We will continue to assist those who struggle to afford their bill through our expanded low-income assistance program. If you’re having trouble affording your bill, our Financial Assistance program may be able to help.
The Bull Run Treatment Projects are delivering on the City’s policy to promote contracting opportunities with certified Disadvantaged, Minority-owned, Women-owned, Emerging Small Businesses, and Service Disabled Veterans Business Enterprises to encourage inclusion and a sustained, vibrant local economy. Learn more about subcontracting opportunities for this project.
Engaging with the community, gathering feedback, and keeping people informed about the Bull Run Treatment Projects is a priority to us. Check out our community outreach history and upcoming opportunities to get involved.