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Portland Water Bueau says water supply is still safe, but advises those with immune problems to take precautions

PORTLAND TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Portlnd's reservoir in the Bull Run Watershed.The Portland Water Bureau is once again reporting the detection of a potentially disease-causing microorganism in the Bull Run Watershed.

According to a late Monday afternoon press release from the bureau, Cryptosporidium was detected in test results from sample collected on Sept. 27.

This is the first positive detection since a sample taken on Sept. 24. Between the two dates, 18 other samples were all negative for crypto, as the microorganism is commonly called. Before that, crypto had not been detected for years until early 2017.

Bureau officials say they believe water from the watershed — the primary source of water for Portland and many suburban communities — is still safe to drink.

"Even from a highly protected watershed such as the Bull Run, it is not unusual to detect low levels of Cryptosporidium from wildlife sources. We continuously monitor the rate of human illness caused by Cryptosporidium and will know if there is an increase" Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Paul Lewis said in the announcement. "Fortunately, there has never been a documented outbreak of Cryptosporidium linked to Bull Run water."

According to the release, as always, the bureau recommends that people with severely weakened immune systems seek specific advice from their health care providers about drinking water.

"Together with our public health partners at Multnomah County, we continue to believe Bull Run water is safe to drink," Portland Water Bureau Administrator Michael Stuhr said. "We will continue monitoring our water and working with our health partners to make the best decisions for public health in our community."

Since the earlier detections, the City Council has approved the construction of a filtration plant that could cost up to $500 million that would remove the microorganism and other contaminants from the Bull Run water. It cannot be complete for another 10 years or so, however.

The bureau says it will continue to sample the Bull Run for crypto and notify the public, its regulators and health officials of any additional detections.

The public is encouraged to view all sampling results posted to the city's website at www.portlandoregon.gov/water/cryptoresults.

Customers with questions regarding water quality can call the Water Line at 503-823-7525.

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