Crypto found again as variance talks continue
A potentially disease-causing microoganism has been found in Bull Run water against as Portland and the Oregon Health Authority continue negotiating over how the city will respond to such detections.
Cryptosporidium was found in a water sample from the Bull Run Reservoir on Nov. 22, the Portland Water Bureau announced Tuesday. The detection is the 28th time that crypto — as the microoganism is commonly called — has been found in samples this year.
The repeated findings have prompted the OHA to announce it will revoke a variance granted to the PWB from U.S. Envrinomental Protection Agency rules requiring open public water sources to be treated for crypto. The OHA granted the variance in 2012 because Bull Run water has been so relatively clean.
After the OHA announcement, the City Council voted unanimously to build a filtration plant that will remove crypto from the water. It will cost up to $500 million and take as long as 10 years to complete.
Since the OHA announcement, it has been negotiating with the PWB over a proposed compliance schedule and interim measures to implement once the variance is revoked. Although the variance was scheduled to be revoked on Nov. 22, the OHA issued a three-week extension last week so that final discussions and agreement on the ensuing compliance schedule can be completed. The revised deadline is Dec. 13.
PWB and Multnomah County health officials say the strains of crypto detected in Bull Run water do not pose threats to humans. But they urge water customers with compromised immune systems to consult their doctors. That is because exposure to some strains of crypto can cause cryptosporidiosis, a serious illness. Symptoms can include diarrhea, vomiting, fever and stomach pain. People with healthy immune systems recover without medical treatment. But people with severely weakened immune systems are at risk for more serious disease and even death.
In addition to Portland, the PWB supplies water to the Burlington, Gresham, Sandy, Tualatin, Green Valley, GNR, Hideaway Hills, Lake Grove, Lorna Portland Water, Lusted, Palatine Hill, Pleasant Home, Raleigh, Rockwood, Skyview Acres, Tualatin Valley, Two Rivers, Valley View and West Slope Water districts. To learn if your drinking water comes from Bull Run, please contact your local drinking water provider.
You can learn more about the PWB response to crypto and monitor its testing results at www.portlandoregon.gov/water/53849.
You can read a previous Portland Tribune story on the issue at portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/379157-265044-parasite-found-in-bull-run-before.