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News Release - City of Ashland Water Quality and Algae Testing Protocol

City of Ashland Water Quality and Algae Testing Protocol
Ashlandís water is safe and the City of Ashlandís Water Department intends to ensure it stays that way.
The City of Ashlandís Water Department has received inquiries from concerned citizens about our water quality testing procedures related to algal toxins.  These concerns are due to a situation in the northern part of the state where water users have been told not to drink the municipal water due to toxins caused by blue-green algae.  The City of Ashland closely monitors the quality of our untreated raw water in Reeder Reservoir, as well as the finished water that has been treated at our water treatment plant.  Ashland is fortunate to have a very clean source of water from the Ashland watershed through Reeder Reservoir. As with all surface water sources algae is present at various times of the year and it must be monitored.
Staff from the Ashland Water Treatment Plant monitor Reeder Reservoir daily.  This time of year when the water is still relatively cold, very little algae growth occurs.  As the water warms up, some algae growth is very common and the staff samples for the various types of algae to ensure there are no concerns.  When staff begins to see any algae growth, that algae is sampled and sent to a local biologist, working under contract for the City to help ensure our water quality.  After the biologist identifies the specific species of algae, the sample is then overnighted for toxin analysis and cell counts by a certified laboratory.  The lab results direct the final course of action. This cycle is continuous although algae growth slows to almost nothing during cold winter months.
Ashland has not had a situation where algal toxins have been present at a level would cause water quality concerns.  Should that occur in the future, there are steps that can be taken to mitigate the situation and eliminate health concerns.  Algae grows on the top of the water surface where sunlight is present, and by pulling water from lower levels within Reeder Reservoir it greatly reduces the amount of algae in the water.  The Cityís water treatment plant uses an activated carbon filtration system and potassium permanganate to help with odor and taste concerns. Itís likely our treatment process and intake treatment strategies would mitigate the risk of any toxins, but if the levels reached a point where they could not be effectively treated, notifications similar to those up north would be sent out.
They City of Ashland considers water quality delivery to our water users as the most important service we provide.  All treatment processes and monitoring follow strictly outlined protocols authorized by the Oregon Health Authority.
DATE:            June 1, 2018
CONTACT:    Mike Morrison, Public Works Superintendent, 541 488-5587 or 541-552-2325

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