Portland water bills swell to cover $500M treatment plant

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland homeowners are expected to pay about $10 more per month for water throughout the next 16 years to cover the cost of a new filtration treatment plant approved unanimously by the City Council.

Portland had been exempt from a federal law requiring municipalities to treat drinking water for the parasite cryptosporidium, but that exemption ended after Portland was found to have high amounts of the organism in its main watershed called Bull Run, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

BACKGROUND: City of Portland agrees to treat Bull Run water

The action taken by City Council on Wednesday was the most expensive option presented to the council to fix the problem.

The total cost of the facility is predicted at $350 million to $500 million. Construction will take at least a decade.

Mayor Ted Wheeler said councilmembers “settled on the most challenging solution” because it’s the most “responsible solution.”

The other major option presented to the council was to build a facility costing $105 million that would use ultraviolet light to kill parasites.

The Portland Water Bureau, however, predicted two factors that could require more cleaning of Bull Run water in coming decades — both of which wouldn’t be eradicated by the light. Another concern with the light facility is it wouldn’t protect water against other pollutants such as lead.

Water bureau officials said the light facility would need to be updated or replaced in 25 years, meaning the city could potentially be forced to build a filtration plant anyway.

© 2017 Associated Press

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