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Is Portland Tap Water Safe to Drink in 2022?

Scott Winfield
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by Scott Winfield

Portland tap water is safe to drink in 2022. The water goes through significant treatment to make it healthy for drinking.

Tap Water Safe To Drink In 2022

Portland Water Quality Report: What Is in the Water?

Filtering tap water has long been a standard in the United States. Most people filter their water, even if the city or municipality claims to have clean, healthy, chemical-free water.

Portland is no exception. As early as November 2021, studies showed an increased lead level in drinking water around Portland’s metro area. While the presence of lead was not consistent in water across the entire city, significant concentrations in the metro area was a cause for concern.

Lead is not the only concern in Portland’s drinking water. Another 2021 study showed excessive levels of arsenic, haloacetic acids, and total trihalomethanes.

Arsenic is linked to multiple adverse health issues, including cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Haloacetic acids are more common in public water and increase the risk of bladder cancer, colon cancer, and adverse developmental effects during pregnancy.

Total trihalomethanes are disinfection byproducts that group when chlorine reacts with other chemicals that occur naturally in water. Referred to as TTHM, they are also linked to cancers and reproductive health issues.

Is Portland Tap Water Hard or Soft?

Portland tap water is soft. The rest of the state of Oregon is also reported to have soft tap water.

A 2012 study found that 85% of tap water in the United States is hard water. Hard water contains dissolved minerals like calcium and magnesium.

The common signs of hard water:

  • A film or residue on your hands after you wash
  • Spots or streaks on glasses and silverware from the dishwasher
  • Insufficient or lessening water pressure
  • Mineral stains on clothes, towels, or other laundry

Tap water in Portland is incredibly soft with a hardness of 12 parts per million (PPM). On average, Oregon’s water has a hardness of 29 PPM.

Where Does Portland Get Its Water From?

Portland’s drinking water supply comes from the Bull Run Watershed. It is nearly 30 miles east of Portland, separated from Mount Hood by a prominent ridgeline. Along with the Bull Run Watershed, Portland city government also operates the Columbia South Shore Well Field as a water source for the city.

Together, the Bull Run Watershed and Columbia South Shore Well Field serve Portland with quality drinking water. The Watershed is the city’s primary source while Columbia Well Field serves as the secondary source.

The city does not filter Portland’s drinking water. Individuals can install home filtration systems or use a portable water filter that filters from the tap. However, portland drinking water is treated in three critical steps:

  1. Chlorine disinfectant: Controls microorganisms like bacteria and viruses.
  2. Ammonia: Stabilizes the chlorine for a longer-lasting disinfecting process.
  3. Sodium hydroxide: Treatment helps to reduce metal corrosion and introduce less lead into the drinking water.

With this water treatment process, Portland can provide soft tap water that is generally safe for consumption, And constant improvements are pushing the city towards lead free water.

Do They Have the Cleanest Tap Water?

While Portland has clean tap water, it is not the cleanest in the state or country. It is, however, incredibly soft and entirely safe for consumption without a home filtration system. Regardless, we always recommend to filter your water irrespective of the water quality report.

Compared to other cities around the Pacific Northwest, Portland does have nearly immaculate water. Tests have shown it to be low on contaminants like giardia lamblia, cryptosporidium, fecal coliform, and total coliform bacteria.

The Portland city government is dedicated to total adherence to standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency through the Safe Drinking Water Act. And because the state of Oregon has its own standards as well, having clean drinking water in Portland is a top priority. 

Do People Drink Tap Water in Portland?

Many residents drink Portland tap water. It is considered safe for drinking without a filter, although a home filter is never a bad idea. The city takes extraordinary measures to ensure that the water is treated and free from harmful bacteria and contaminants before it reaches your tap.

Tap Water

Portland tap water is one of the best in the country. The extensive testing and treatment process is likely a contributing factor, as well as the nearby natural water resources.

With two high-quality water sources, Portland has clean tap water that is naturally soft, and the city government is constantly working to improve tap water quality for residents. 

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Scott Winfield
Scott Winfield
My name is Scott Winfield and researching and writing about water filters and other strategies to purify water has become my full time passion in recent years. I'm glad that you found our site and you can look forward to authoritative and well researched content here to help you get the best in water.
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