‘Elevated levels’ of lead found in Portland water

Portland Water Bureau tests lead levels at high-risk homes twice a year

Water from a faucet (KOIN, file)
Water from a faucet (KOIN, file)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland Water Bureau found that some high-risk homes in the city have lead-in-water levels that exceed federal limits.

The bureau tested water from 134 homes that are deemed “high-risk” because they’re known to have lead solder in their plumbing. According to the test results, 18 homes exceeded the state limit of 15 parts per billion.

Due to more than 10% of homes testing above the federal limit, the bureau was required to notify the public of the results.

In a statement, Portland Water Bureau Director Michael Stuhr said, “Ideally, all of our customers’ household plumbing fixtures would be lead-free, but they aren’t. This is why we are making improvements to our system to further reduce the potential for lead at our customers’ taps.”

The results of October’s lead tests aren’t the first time the city has exceeded federal limits. Most recently, the bureau found that 14 of 112 homes in the fall of 2016 had exceeded the lead-in-water limit.

Portland’s drinking water comes from the Bull Run Watershed, which the bureau treats to make it less corrosive by raising the pH of the water.

In March, the Portland City Council gave the water bureau approval to begin “implementation of improved corrosion control treatment” as a way to reduce lead levels in drinking water.  The improved treatment is expected to start by the spring of 2022.

In the meantime, the bureau wants to remind people how they can reduce their exposure to lead in water.

  • Run water to flush the lead out
  • Use cold, fresh water for cooking and preparing baby formula
  • Do not boil water to remove lead
  • Test children for lead
  • Test your water for lead
  • Consider using a filter
  • Regularly clean the faucet aerator
  • Consider buying low-lead fixtures