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City of Gresham: Water is safe

City's part of infrastructure is lead free.

With all the controversy swirling around water quality at Portland Public Schools, the city of Gresham wants everyone to know the water going into Gresham homes and buildings is safe.

The city's “230 miles of pipe deliver safe, convenient water from three protected water sources to more than 100,000 Gresham citizens — at less than a penny a gallon,” the city said in a statement released Wednesday.

The city continually monitors water quality to ensure it is safe and clean. In 2015, the City of Gresham met or exceeded all federal drinking water quality standards, the announcement said.

But, that only means it is safe to the point where it reaches homes, schools and other buildings. “We do not have lead in the infrastructure that we deliver water through,” said Elizabeth Coffey, Gresham's communications manager. “Once the water leaves the city pipes ... that is when problems can occur.”

Gresham's deputy director of environmental services Brian R. Stahl said "as new challenges to drinking water safety emerge, we remain vigilant in meeting the goals of source water protection, water conservation and community education while continuing to serve the needs of all our water users."

In Portland, some are calling for the removal of PPS Superintendent Carole Smith because of recent disclosures that the district did tests at 47 schools in 2010 and 2012 and found elevated lead levels there but did not immediately inform parents or shut off the faucets and drinking fountains. One fixture tested as high as 174 parts per billion, and the Environmental Protection Agency says agencies should take action at 15 parts per billion. It is unclear if any remediation was done after those tests.

Smith said one or more administrators could be put on leave during an investigation into why she didn’t know until Wednesday about the test results this spring and the actions taken to replace water fixtures at two schools, Creston and Rose City Park Elementary.

In Gresham, specific water quality data is available in the 2016 Water Quality Report, including the city's commitment to community safety and reducing exposure to lead, the announcement said.

Gresham has been in compliance with the federal Lead and Copper Rule since it was enacted in 1997. Water-related lead exposure in Gresham is linked to household or building plumbing, not to lead in the source water or distribution system.

If people are concerned about their water quality, they can request free lead test kits and get more information about reducing exposure to lead from the Leadline at 503-988-4000 or www.leadline.org.

The city has produced an annual Water Quality Report since 1998 and has met all drinking water requirements set by the Environmental Protection Agency each year.

The 2016 report is available at www.GreshamOregon.gov/2016wqr. Citizens may also pick up a report at City Hall, 1333 NW Eastman Parkway, or call 503-618-2525.