Benefits of Corrosion Control Treatment
Elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant people and young children. To support the health of our community, we are committed to help limit exposure to lead in drinking water.
In Portland, the main source of lead in water is corrosion (wearing away) of household 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. Additional improvements are now underway to further reduce lead in drinking water. These improvements will benefit customers by:
- Making our water less corrosive to lead and other metals found in home and building plumbing
- Helping protect people’s health by further limiting exposure to lead in drinking water
- Continuing to comply with existing regulations
Our Improved Corrosion Control Treatment schedule was approved by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) in 2017. Planning and design of the new corrosion control treatment are complete and construction is anticipated to begin late summer of 2020. The new facility will be in operation by April 2022.
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 will begin in late summer of 2020 at our Lusted Hill facility.
April 2022: Corrosion Control Treatment Facility in Operation
The new facility will be online and operational.
The Improved Corrosion Control Treatment project will be located at our Lusted Hill 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 will be 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 will:
- 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. The improved corrosion control will increase the alkalinity of our water to 25 mg/L.
Lead Hazard Reduction Program
Until improved corrosion control is in place, we will continue the Lead Hazard Reduction Program to reduce exposure to sources of lead and take interim actions to further protect public health from lead in drinking water.
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 throughout the life of the projects.
Portland City Council voted on July 8, 2020 to accept a guaranteed maximum price of $17,989,637 from MWH Constructors to serve as the project’s construction manager/general contractor.
Application for Low-cost, Long-term Federal Financing
In April 2020, we submitted an application for low-cost, long-term federal financing through the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act. Among other benefits, this financing could save ratepayers about $350 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, Women, Emerging Small Businesses, 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 our Bull Run Treatment Projects is a priority to us. Check out our community outreach history and upcoming opportunities to get involved.