Bethel neighbors boost emergency preparedness during Emergency Water Station event
Staff gave out about 300 emergency water containers to enthusiastic community members eager to learn more about the water station.Find Out More
How does EWEB recover the costs of serving customers
Here’s an overview of the three primary ways EWEB recovers the costs of serving customers and generates the funds needed to keep the power on and the water flowing.Find Out More
Women in STEM: Meet our servant leader and maker of tough decisions
Karen Kelley, Chief Operations Officer at EWEB, describes herself as a "servant leader," offering support and mentoring to four division managers at EWEB.Find Out More
Women in STEM: Meet the water quality specialist who ensures the safety of Eugene's drinking water
Brenda Casarez began working at EWEB in 2009, collecting samples from all over the water system testing for different contaminants.Find Out More
EWEB will close College Hill Reservoir site for Fourth of July
EWEB will continue the annual closure of its College Hill Reservoir over the Fourth of July holiday. For the past several years, EWEB has restricted access to the reservoir surface around the Fourth of July to ensure people do not set off fireworks which can damage the roof and potentially impact drinking water quality.Find Out More
EWEB, Partners Receive $7.5M Grant from NOAA
EWEB, McKenzie Watershed Council, McKenzie River Trust and the U.S. Forest Service are working to improve major tributary for water quality, wildfire resiliency and fish habitat.Find Out More
EWEB begins major water pipeline upgrades
This summer, EWEB is launching several construction water pipeline projects to enhance the reliability and earthquake resiliency of drinking water service for Eugene residents.Find Out More
EWEB Education Programs Invest in Eugene’s Future
Learn some of the many ways EWEB customers support local schools and help inspire kids to explore the wonders of watershed health and clean energy resources.Find Out More
Every Week is Infrastructure Week
National Infrastructure Week (May 14-20) may be a politically charged quip on the national stage, but for EWEB, the urgency and importance of infrastructure is no joke.Find Out More
State of the McKenzie Watershed
Millions of dollars of investment have prevented the major harm from the Holiday Farm Fire, EWEB’s annual State of the Watershed Report finds.Find Out More
EWEB drinking water meets federal and state health standards again
EWEB employs multiple methods of safeguarding drinking water, from the source to the tap.Find Out More
EWEB to replace aging College Hill Reservoir with new earthquake-proof storage tanks
Old reservoir leaks, threatening water quality, and will fail when a major earthquake strikes.Find Out More
Water use in summer more than twice as high as winter
EWEB customers use more than twice as much water in the hot, dry summer months, compared to the cold, rainy winter months. The higher summer water use can almost assuredly be attributed to customers watering their lawns and gardens.Find Out More
New water treatment trailer improves EWEB’s emergency response abilities
The Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB) is expanding its capacity to provide water to customers in case of an emergency.Find Out More
Tests show EWEB water is free of “forever chemicals”
EWEB is already in compliance with a new proposed federal rule that would require municipalities to test for PFAs, or forever chemicals, in drinking water. The good news for EWEB customers is that in over ten years of testing we have not found PFAs in our water.Find Out More
- Show More
Source Protection, Observation and Treatment Keeps Water Pure
May 08, 2020
Clean water starts at the source
For decades, we have worked to protect the McKenzie River, our primary water source. The river emerges from Clear Lake, high in the Cascade Mountains, before flowing 85 miles to Hayden Bridge Water Filtration Plant, where we draw water from the river.
We employ a multi-faceted approach to protecting the river, which includes multiple monitoring sites throughout the McKenzie River watershed and at Cougar and Blue River reservoirs.
But monitoring alone isn't enough to guarantee clean, healthy water at the tap, especially with cyanobacteria harmful algal blooms (cyanoHABs) become more common in the reservoirs. We have recently made some changes to our filtration and treatment protocols to prevent cyanotoxins that are harmful to humans and pets from getting into the drinking water delivered to homes and businesses.
Source protection continues
Our staff work aggressively to protect this outstanding source for current and future generations, and we have been proactive in addressing threats, including cyanoHABs. Some species of cyanobacteria produce cyanotoxins.
In July 2018, in response to problems found in some Oregon watersheds, the Oregon Health Authority began regulating drinking water for the cyanotoxins microcystin and cylindrospermopsin. EWEB has performed all required monitoring and has not detected cyanotoxins at the filtration plant's water intake. Read more about cyanotoxins.
Observation and vigilance in place
Recent climate change research in the Pacific Northwest shows that with higher temperatures, earlier snow melt, and longer, drier summers, the McKenzie Watershed and surrounding areas will experience more abundant cyanoHABs that will start earlier in the spring and last longer into the fall.
Climate change impacts are already causing increased wildfires, which can increase nutrients in reservoirs, fueling cyanoHAB production. We are studying the impacts of the recent Rebel (2018) and Terwilliger (2019) wildfires on Cougar Reservoir with Oregon State University. We also partnered with the U.S. Geological Survey to install real-time water quality sensors below Cougar Reservoir, Blue River Reservoir, in the McKenzie River, and at the filtration plant water intake to measure blue green algae activity (and other water quality parameters) as an early warning system.
EWEB maintains a close partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates Cougar and Blue River reservoirs, where cyanoHABs occur. EWEB, the USGS, and the Corps partnered to add a real-time water quality sensor in Cougar Reservoir in 2020. It measures blue green algae activity at multiple depths to direct sample collection efforts and can guide Army Corps reservoir operations to reduce downstream impacts to drinking water.
To ensure proactive monitoring and decision-making, our expert staff continues to build on the source water protection, monitoring and treatment programs.
Treatment and filtration tactics
The most important line of defense to prevent cyanotoxins from entering Eugene's drinking water supply is the filtration plant, where staff monitor the early warning systems and react with appropriate treatment changes to mitigate for cyanotoxins.
Our Water Quality Lab recently added analytical equipment capable of quickly and accurately assessing the presence of cyanotoxins at low levels, and at much reduced cost compared with shipping to out-of-state laboratories. This allows us to make rapid decisions about monitoring and water treatment strategies to mitigate any impacts to drinking water.
In addition, the filtration plant was converted to biological filtration in 2018 and this has demonstrated effectiveness in removing cyanotoxins. If cyanotoxins reach the filtration plant water intake, the biologically active filters can "eat" the toxins as a food source, effectively removing them as the water flows through the filters. We can also utilize activated carbon and chlorination as effective means to treat cyanotoxins.