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Eugene, OR Water Quality Report

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Sources Of Drinking Water in Eugene, Oregon

Where does Eugene get its water from? Drinking water for the city of Eugene, Oregon, is drawn from the McKenzie River, a high-quality source that is nonetheless threatened by urban, agricultural, and forestry land uses upstream as well as by changes in water management in the watershed. The Eugene Water and Electric Board developed a Drinking Water Source Protection plan for the McKenzie River Watershed that includes comprehensive monitoring and evaluation of potential threats to drinking water sources.

In 2002, the USGS Oregon Water Science Center began working with Eugene Water and Electric Board to monitor dissolved pesticides in the McKenzie River at the Eugene Water and Electric Board drinking water intake and upstream, and in tributaries draining to the McKenzie. In 2007, the USGS and Eugene Water and Electric Board entered into a 5-year agreement for continued cooperation in efforts to assess and monitor many of these upstream threats, and to further understand the relative risks posed by these threats relative to potential management actions. Is Eugene's water safe to drink?

The primary objective of this study is to study threats to drinking water quality and watershed health in the McKenzie River Basin in order to provide Eugene Water and Electric Board with information necessary to manage and protect its drinking water sources. Specific objectives or study elements may be modified from year to year as agreed upon in discussions between Eugene Water and Electric Board and USGS. The current objectives are:

  • Collect semiannual storm runoff pesticide data
  • Investigate sources of natural organic matter and disinfection by-product precursors
  • Sample for pesticides and organic wastewater compounds using passive samplers
  • (Potential) Sample for pharmaceuticals and sewage/septics in well water in shallow aquifer systems
  • Provide model support and development to help EWEB address a variety of management alternatives for McKenzie River water quality

Source: City of Eugene

Contaminants Found in Eugene's Water Supply

(Detected above health guidelines)

Chromium (hexavalent)

Chromium (hexavalent) is a carcinogen that commonly contaminates American drinking water. Chromium (hexavalent) in drinking water may be due to industrial pollution or natural occurrences in mineral deposits and groundwater. Read more about chromium (hexavalent). 

Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs)

Trihalomethanes are cancer-causing contaminants that form during water treatment with chlorine and other disinfectants. The total trihalomethanes group includes four chemicals: chloroform, bromodichloromethane, dibromochloromethane and bromoform. 

Potential Health Effects of Consuming These Contaminants

Health risks of Chromium (hexavalent) in excess of the health guidelines

Cancer: The health guideline of 0.02 ppb for chromium (hexavalent) was defined by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a public health goal, the level of a drinking water contaminant that does not pose a significant health risk. This health guideline protects against cancer.

Health risks of Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs) in excess of the health guidelines 

Cancer: The health guideline of 0.8 ppb for trihalomethanes was defined by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a draft public health goal, the level of drinking water contaminant that does not pose a significant health risk. This health guideline protects against cancer.

Contaminant Levels Compared to Other Regions

Chromium (hexavalent)

 - Health Guideline: 0.02 ppb

 - National: 0.782 ppb

 - State: 0.236 ppb

 - Eugene, OR: 0.104 ppb

Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs)

 - Health Guideline: 0.8 ppb

 - State: 22.9 ppb

 - National: 23.4 ppb

 - Eugene, OR: 25.2 ppb

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April Jones

A hiker, blogger, and water quality expert...

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