EUGENE, Ore. - A statewide chlorine shortage could affect the state's water supply, according to the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.
A major electrical failure at a chlorine manufacturer in Longview, Washington created the critical chlorine shortage.
Westlake Chemicals supplies chlorine for most of the West Coast, emergency officials said. The company is experiencing an electrical failure and is expected to be offline at least until the end of June to undergo repairs.
However, officials in Eugene and Springfield believe customers will not see any issues.
In a release, Meredith Clark with the Springfield Utility Board (SUB) said Thursday that they have adequate supplies of chlorine gas to last through the expected duration of the shortage. They anticipate limited or no impacts to the Eugene-Springfield water supply.
Clark said the areas three water providers—Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB), SUB and Rainbow Water District—have been in regular communication during this supply shortage. The utilities have standing mutual assistance agreements in place, including water system interties, should the shortage become prolonged.
SUB uses chlorine in small amounts to disinfect water before it is released into our distribution system.
EWEB said their not concerned due to the fact that in 2019, EWEB stopped using chlorine gas and instead implemented an improved system for disinfecting drinking water.
This new system allows them to produce chlorine at their Hayden Bridge Filtration Plant using electricity, salt and water to create sodium hypochlorite, which is liquid bleach.
EWEB currently has plenty of good water from the McKenzie River, abundant electricity and a 75-day supply of the coarse salt used in the electrolytic conversion process to produce sodium hypochlorite. There is no shortage of salt.
“EWEB with support from our Board of Commissioners chose to invest in this state-of-the-art disinfection system for the benefit of our entire community,” said Karen Kelley, EWEB Water Operations Manager. “I am thrilled to see the return on our investment in our ability to continue providing safe and reliable drinking water throughout this supply chain shortage.”
Oregonians are asked to limit outdoor water use for things like watering lawns and filling swimming pools to extend the state’s chlorine supply.
The state of Oregon has published information about the steps it is taking at https://www.oregon.gov/oem/emops/Pages/2021-Chlorine-Shortage.aspx