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State urges limited outdoor water use due to chlorine shortage; C.O. cities seek new sources

(Update: Adding city of Bend statement; current supplies would last through August at typical use rate)

Power not expected to return until June 28 or29; experts say water is still safe to drink

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A regional chlorine shortage due to a power failure at a Washington state manufacturer is adding to an already challenging nationwide issue, prompting some Central Oregon cities to look for other sources and the state to urge limited outdoor water use.

A power transformer failed at a chlorine manufacturer in southwest Washington, which supplies chlorine to most of the West Coast.

As state officials urged Thursday that Oregonians limit their outdoor water use, such as lawn watering, Bend and Redmond officials told NewsChannel 21 they are looking for alternative supply chains.

The regional issue comes on the heels of a national chlorine shortage due to a spike in demand, along with a fire at a chorine plant in Louisiana earlier this year.

At a Thursday afternoon media briefing, the Oregon Office of Emergency Management emphasized that tap water throughout the state remains clean and safe, despite a chlorine supply chain interruption affecting regional drinking water and wastewater treatment utilities along the West Coast.

“There are no immediate impacts, and we continue to track for potential changes or needs,” said OEM Deputy Director Matt Marheine. “The public can continue to use water for drinking, cooking and bathing, but may consider limiting outdoor use to extend the state’s current chlorine supply. We appreciate the public’s careful water usage and want to reassure there is no need to start amassing additional volumes of water.”

The chlorine shortage is the result of a major electrical failure recently suffered at Westlake Chemical, based in Longview, Washington. Westlake supplies chlorine to water and sewer utilities in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Northern California.

The chlorine shortage does not impact all Oregon water and sewer utilities, as some entities have their own on-site chlorine generators or have enough supplies on hand to last through the next several weeks. Based on the most updated information available, this timeframe is projected to be sufficient for chlorine supplies to resume.

Utilities that may be impacted are aware of the situation and are working directly with the Governor’s Office, Oregon Health Authority, Department of Environmental Quality and OEM, and utilizing the Oregon Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (ORWARN) and federal authorities to get the chlorine supply they need.

Additionally, Westlake is working to bring the Longview plant back online quickly and evaluating options to help supply chlorine through its other plants and help alleviate the current supply shortage.

“We are drawing on our strong partnerships with Governor Brown’s Office and our local, state and regional partners to proactively and efficiently respond to this evolving situation. Oregon utilities are collectively working together to inventory needs across the state and preparing to share the remaining chlorine supply through mutual aid until production resumes,” stated Marheine. “We are relying on our fellow Oregonians to be responsible and considerate with their water supplies and use.”

Marheine said the power is expected to return on June 28th or 29th.

How Oregonians Can Use Water Wisely to Extend the Current Chlorine Supply

  • Use water only for drinking, cooking and bathing
  • Limit outdoor use such as filling pools, washing cars or watering lawns
  • Be considerate of fellow Oregonians when purchasing additional water supplies

The electrical failure at Westlake follows a fire that destroyed BioLab in Lake Charles, Louisiana, in August 2020, rendering that plant inoperable. That facility was responsible for a significant portion of chlorine tablets produced for the U.S. market, causing a nationwide chlorine shortage.

For additional updates and information, visit https://www.oregon.gov/oem/emops/Pages/2021-Chlorine-Shortage.aspx.


City of Bend news release, issued Friday morning:

City of Bend Drinking Water Remains Safe through Chlorine Supply Challenge

Post Date:06/18/2021 9:29 AM

The City of Bend water remains clean and safe amidst the recent developments of a chlorine supply chain interruption and shortage affecting the West Coast.

“Our drinking water coming out of your tap remains safe to drink and use,” says Michael Buettner, City of Bend Utility Department Director. “Protection of public health is the City of Bend Utility Department’s number one priority.”

The city became aware of a critical chlorine supply issue creating a shortage throughout the West that may affect Bend. The chlorine shortage was caused by an equipment failure at a chlorine manufacturing facility that supplies the West Coast.

Bend has dual water sources that are chlorinated: surface water and groundwater. Both water sources and the wastewater treatment plant utilize chlorine gas and chlorine solution for disinfection.

To acquire additional chlorine supply we may need, the City of Bend Utility Department is working directly with other water utilities, the Oregon Governor’s Office, Oregon Emergency Management (OEM), Oregon Health Authority (OHA), Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Oregon Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (ORWARN), and federal authorities.

Current and seasonal demands for water may cause a more rapid depletion of the City’s chlorine supplies currently in stock.

“We expect our supply of chlorine to take us into August, at the typical seasonal water usage rate; however, any unnecessary use of water may deplete our resources quicker,” says Buettner. City of Bend water customers can voluntarily help conserve the chlorine supply by reducing indoor and outdoor water use. For more information about ways to save water, visit waterwisetips.org.

For additional information about our water system and future updates about the chlorine supply challenge, please visit our webpage at www.bendoregon.gov/water.

Bend / Central Oregon / Redmond / Top Stories
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Max Goldwasser

Max Goldwasser is a reporter and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Max here.

Comments

12 Comments

    1. It’s either chlorine or bacteria, germs and things like norovirus.

      I doubt the city wants to take the chance you wont want to sue them when you get an extreme case of the trots for a couple months straight.

      1. You must be afraid to drink from a creek, River or lake.. hopefully you don’t have to be in the woods and are thirsty they don’t provide chlorine out there. Why would you want chlorine in your water? Weren’t we all told not to drink the pool water not just cause people pee in it but because chlorine isn’t good to drink?

        1. No. I grew up drinking from creeks and springs all over Maine.
          We arent talking about that water, we’re talking about the water Bend uses and the liabilities they would face if they made a bunch of people sick.
          Tell me if your daughter got sick and died from solomella in city water you wouldn’t sue. C’mon, enough with the straw man argument.

        1. Fine, no doubt you do and have, so did i as a kid.
          Like i said though, the city probably doesn’t want to take the chance on the lawsuits people will file if they are selling water with pathogens. How is that not easily understood to you?

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