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New water treatment trailer improves EWEB’s emergency response abilities

March 22, 2023 EWEB Communications Team

water treatment trailer and three male workers

The Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB) is expanding its capacity to provide water to customers in case of an emergency.

The newest addition is a state-of-the-art water treatment trailer paid for using a grant from the State Preparedness and Incident Response Program (SPIRE).

An example of a large-scale disaster would be the subduction zone earthquake which could affect the McKenzie River, disrupt the water treatment plant or damage the 800 miles of distribution pipes that delivers water to Eugene homes and businesses.

This week, EWEB tested the new water trailer, which uses reverse osmosis – a process that uses high pressure to push water through a membrane – to filter out contaminants.

“Staff will begin water quality testing and training of additional staff with a mind towards improving procedures and equipment, if necessary,” said Hayden Bridge Water Treatment Plant Supervisor Ray Leipold.

EWEB has one other water treatment trailer and three mobile water distribution trailers. The treatment trailers function as drinking water treatment plants on wheels in case an emergency takes EWEB’s Hayden Bridge Treatment Plant offline. These trailers can park at almost any water source and can treat up to 144,000 gallons of fresh water per day. These mobile treatment systems are self-contained and deployable to support Eugene or another regional utility in need.

Permanent emergency water stations

In the past few years, EWEB also has built permanent emergency water stations that will be available if a disaster strikes. Unlike the water treatment trailer, these stations are permanently located at sites throughout Eugene and they provide and distribute untreated groundwater to customers, who will then need to disinfect the water before using it.

EWEB inaugurated two of these permanent emergency water stations last year – one at the Lane County Event Center and another at the Sheldon Community Center. EWEB is in the planning and design stage of building two additional water stations near Churchill High School and near Roosevelt Middle School. 

At these permanent stations, underground wells extend more than 100 feet below the surface. Water is pumped up from underground and distributed via pipes and nozzles, where people can fill up jugs of water. The stations are designed to provide each person with two gallons of untreated water per day.