This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 16, 2011 7:05 PM. The previous post in this blog was A pooch comes through. The next post in this blog is A rarity, a Ratzer. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bull Run turned off

All the rain between here and Mount Hood has stirred up too much sediment in Portland's Bull Run reservoir, and so the water bureau has switched the supply over to the wells out by the airport. Up on the mountain, some 24-hour rainfall totals are upwards of 8 inches. Rough holiday weekend for the ski resorts and their patrons.

Comments (16)

"Users will experience water quality ranging between the water quality of 100% Bull Run and the 100% groundwater as the water moves through the distribution system."

This says nothing about the actual range in "water quality" between the two sources. Why even bring up the topic if no meaningful information is provided? Are we supposed to be that stupid?

Not that I care. I didn't mind in the past when our water may have changed slightly in color due to seasonal fluctuations, and somehow, I managed to survive to tell the tale.

That's odd. I don't recall this happening before. I thought the wells were only switched on in the summers when reservoir levels were low, not when too high. I suppose it makes sense, though.

As I remember it, there used to be some trees up at Bull Run that kept soil erosion down.

I don't recall that this was done in the monsoons of 1996. Now why is that?

It only makes sense for Leonard to use this as PR for "their purposes" to continue advocating for a filtration system even though we do not have a need for it.

Look, this wonderful treasure of our Bull Run Water System has been in place for 100 years and quite frankly, a little discoloration is preferable than drinking pharmaceuticals from the Columbia Well Fields.

Of course, PWB says the pharmas are only a small amount. What about the mixtures of these pharmaceuticals in our drinking water? As I understand, most of these pharmas and chemicals have not been regulated.

To stay on the prudent side, I think the 100 years of our Bull Run Water System is a better measurement and more trustworthy than the current telling us all is OK with small amounts when the pharmas and chemicals have no assurances of having been tested over a period of years.

I'll take the history of Bull Run Water as my measurement. Can’t convince me that a mixture of pharmas and chemicals that haven’t had the many many years of testing is any better than some discoloration.

Below is link to article worth reading and I only included a few excerpts.


The federal government doesn’t require any testing and hasn’t set safety limits for drugs in water.

Another issue: There’s evidence that adding chlorine, a common process in conventional drinking water treatment plants, makes some pharmaceuticals more toxic.

But at a conference last summer, Mary Buzby — director of environmental technology for drug maker Merck & Co. Inc. — said: “There’s no doubt about it, pharmaceuticals are being detected in the environment and there is genuine concern that these compounds, in the small concentrations that they’re at, could be causing impacts to human health or to aquatic organisms.”

After seeing the chart in this morning's paper of recent and projected water rates, I think I'm ready to embrace the drug-laced supply, thank you.


I was up in the watershed today taking pictures of what will likely turn out to be one for the records books. One of my managers did a little digging to compare today to our historical data. Here is what he noted:

• From the North Fork Snotel site (in the upper reaches of the watershed where we get an average of 170 inches of precipitation per year), we had over 8 inches of rain and the release of over 6 inches of snow water equivalent from the snow pack at that site from the afternoon of January 15 through the peak flow in the afternoon of the 16th.

• The Snotel sites for South Fork and Blazed Alder didn't show nearly as much rain fall or snow melt.

• The North Fork (actually the main stem of the Bull Run) peaked around 11,000 cfs this afternoon and was the color of milk chocolate. Maximum peak at this site was 15,800 cfs in November of 1999.

• 1 cfs (cubic foot per second) is approximately 646,000 gallons over 24 hours.

• Bull Run Reservoir No.1 crested at 1046.80 ft at 13:30 this afternoon. That is 10.80 feet over the spillway crest and is the sixth highest reservoir stage ever measured at this dam over the past 82 years. Today's peak spillway stage probably translates to a flow of about 14,800 cfs plus another 2,300 cfs through the turbine at Powerhouse No.1. That total of 17,100 cfs is No.2 on the all time list of flood flows at that dam since it was built in the late 1920's. No.1 on the list at this dam was the combined flow of about 18,200 cfs on November 25, 1999. Bull Run Reservoir No.1 stage got up to 1047.37 ft during that event.

• Bull Run Reservoir No.2 crested at 865.14 at 14:30 this afternoon. That is 5.14 feet over the spillway crest and is the fifth highest reservoir stage ever measured at this dam over the past 49 years. Today's peak stage probably translates to a flow of about 17,800 cfs plus another 1,650 cfs though the turbine at Powerhouse No.2. That total flow of 19,450 cfs is No.3 on the all time list of flood flows at that dam since it was built in the early 1960's. The No.1 combined flow at this dam was about 22,100 on December 22, 1964.

• Finally, the stage at the USGS Gauge No. 14140000 which measures flow in the Bull Run River downstream of Bull Run Dam No.2 peaked at 14:45 this afternoon. The flow in the river at that time was measured as being 20,200 cfs. That flow compares with the 1964 flood peak flow of 25,100 cfs.

• This event will be the 8th turbidity event since the development of our groundwater system. These events have ranged from 4 days to 22 days in length. See the historic use chart at this link: http://www.portlandonline.com/water/index.cfm?c=30043&

• The Surface Water Treatment Rule, adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1989, is a federal regulation that requires all drinking water systems in the nation drawing from surface water sources to meet specific, measurable water treatment standards. Portland’s main water supply sources, the Bull Run reservoirs, are surface water supplies and are subject to this rule.

Portland was one of six large drinking water systems in the country at the time the rule was adopted that did not filter its water supply (N.Y., Boston, Seattle, Tacoma, Portland and San Francisco). The City was able to meet the requirements by modifying its treatment approach and continuously meeting a set of filtration avoidance criteria.

EPA has granted filtration avoidance waivers to Portland and these other unfiltered water systems, and required these systems to continuously meet the source water protection and water treatment standards of the rule. Should any of these systems fail to meet the filtration avoidance criteria, they will be in jeopardy of losing the waiver and being required by the federal government to filter their drinking water.

Portland has been able to consistently meet these criteria, but it occasionally has to shut down the Bull Run system and operate from its back up groundwater supply when storms and other natural disturbances in the Bull Run reservoirs increase the turbidity-- the amount of suspended sediments-- in the water. The Surface Water Treatment Rule requires that the City not serve drinking water exceeding a turbidity level of 5 Nephelometric Turbidity Units (NTU).

If we didn’t have the groundwater system to turn to on days like today, we would not qualify for the filtration avoidance waiver.

David Shaff, Administrator
Portland Water Bureau

I live nearby the Salmon River in Welches. We have to cross a small bridge over the Salmon to get to our little community of homes back here. The river has swollen 3 times normal and is raging. The water level that used to be about 20' below the bridge on average, is now within 2-3' of it. I can attest that not only is the water an ugly brown color, large trees and other debris are literally slamming down the river.

The Salmon runs into the Sandy which runs down through Bull Run and Dodge Park.

I've heard some people in Timberline Rim are already getting flooded out of their houses.

Thank you Mr. Sharff.

Thank you Mr. Shaff. (Too early on a Monday to be typing.)

Shaff's comments once again prove that Jack's blog is more relevant in disseminating data than the local "fish wrap".

Mmmmm....the MTBE is what makes it taste so good!

It's the radioactive, sewage contamination, and toxic organics we object to when you run the well field. How about a conservation request for the community, cleaning and filling unused reservoirs for back up, pulling water from unused CLEAN groundwater sources? With the water flow at Bull Run as fast as it is now, it should used soon. Poor management and preparation at PWB for this event.

"EPA has granted filtration avoidance waivers to Portland and these other unfiltered water systems."

Any chance that means the water rate increases of the last 3 years that you said we needed to keep EPA hppay are going to go back down?

Thank you Mr. Shaff for your timely post. Also, thank you for leaving out the demagogy and plannerSpeak to which we have grown accustomed.
Have you been approached concerning the mayoralty?

We are looking for honest, plain-speaking individuals.

Thank you for your corporate engineer shill comments looking for PWB contract $$$$ for Murray, Smith, and Associate engineers. Shaff is only qualified to repeat what you tell him.

Clicky Web Analytics