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Protecting The Source

May 07, 2018

Tamolitch Falls flowing into Blue Pool on upper McKenzie River

We're raising our water glasses to the McKenzie River this week, along with the people and agencies that protect it.

National Drinking Water Week runs May 6-12, and marks a good occasion to pass on our thanks to our source protection and water utility staff, along with our many community partners.

This year's theme, "Protect the Source," is especially relevant because the McKenzie, which delivers some of the cleanest and best-tasting water in the world, is the primary source of drinking water in our community.

The river originates in the cold, pure waters of Clear Lake high in the Cascade Mountains, and we're fortunate for the quality it delivers. We intend to work hard to keep it that way.

Almost 20 years ago, we completed a source water assessment, which identified development, urban runoff and hazardous material transport as primary threats to water quality.

Subsequently, we developed a comprehensive drinking water source protection program to protect the world-renowned river and encourage good stewardship within the McKenzie Watershed.

Customer surveys consistently place a high value on drinking water quality, and we remain committed to protecting Eugene's sole source of drinking water. Staff recently presented a new 10-year strategic plan for source water protection to the EWEB Board of Commissioners.

This plan focuses on: water quality and watershed health monitoring; emergency response to hazardous material spills; urban runoff mitigation; riparian forest protection and restoration; and other programs that help protect this vital water source.

EWEB source protection staff are working closely with technicians at our Hayden Bridge Water Filtration Plant to monitor water quality from "source to tap" in order to understand long-term trends and effectively treat and manage the quality of your drinking water.

The 10-year source protection strategic plan emphasizes investments in the lower part of the McKenzie Watershed, near east Springfield, where threats from urban runoff, development and the potential for spills tend to be the greatest. We recently invested in an online emergency response software and mapping program which will help first responders effectively address spills within the watershed.

We also partner with several local agencies to invest in green infrastructure that enhances wetlands and forests along the river. Those vital lands help to treat and filter out pollutants and provide greater resiliency to increased flooding and drought associated with climate change. We continue to work closely with local, state and federal agencies and organizations on a variety of initiatives designed to maintain and improve water quality, as well as to promote public awareness and stewardship of a healthy watershed. We are fortunate to live in a place with such excellent water quality, and we are committed to keeping this vital source pristine for future generations.

The benefits of these protection activities are obvious everytime you go to the tap to fill your water glass. To read more about our latest water quality report, click here.