Portland Water Bureau finds Cryptosporidium in Bull Run sample, no risk to public

Cryptosporidium. (CDC)

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Water Bureau said it found the Cryptosporidium parasite during a routine test of the Bull Run watershed, however officials said they don’t think there’s any risk to the public.

This is the first time they’ve had water sample tests come back positive for the potentially-deadly Cryptosporidium oocysts since March.

"At this time, the bureau and public health partners at Multnomah County continue to believe Bull Run water is safe to drink," said Portland Water Bureau Administrator Michael Stuhr. "We will continue to monitor for Cryptosporidium, protect the watershed, notify the public, and work with our health partners to make the best decisions for public health."

Back in 2012, the Oregon Health Authority granted Portland a variance in treating the water for Cryptosporidium. The city argued they shouldn’t have to treat for the parasite because hadn’t been detected in the Bull Run water in nearly a decade.

Instead, the bureau was required to do regular tests and report any Cryptosporidium to the public.

The variance is set to be revoked in November, and bureau officials will need to submit a plan to build a new filtration plant by October 11.

The January 2 test was the first positive Cryptosporidium sample since the bureau received the federal Safe Drinking Water Act variance.

The Centers for Disease Control said the parasite causes Cryptospoidiosis. Mulnomah County Health officials said they haven’t seen any evidence of an outbreak of the illness.

Officials have said, however, that people with severely weakened immune systems should talk with their healthcare providers before drinking the water.

Officials said they think the parasites came from wildlife in the Bull Run watershed, but they haven’t identified the source.

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