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Officials Address Chlorine Shortage, Assure Oregonians That Drinking Water Remains Safe

Jos Speetjens

The state of Oregon is experiencing a shortage of chlorine, the chemical used to prevent harmful bacteria growth in drinking water.

The shortage occurred after a power outage earlier this month at the main manufacturer of chlorine for Oregon.

Oregon Health Authorty administrator Andre Ourso said state agencies are working on ways to conserve and distribute available chlorine in the state.

Especially since some cities only have a few weeks supply left.

"At this point today we're still in pretty good shape, so I hope that we won't get to a point where a water system will have to issue a boil water notice or start talking about some extreme curtailment,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) said they use sodium hypochlorite to disinfect their water. 

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Joe Harwood, of EWEB.

Spokesman Joe Harwood says this assures EWEB customers that the regional chlorine shortage won’t affect their water or fees.

“Because we can produce our own disinfecting agent. And we’ve actually also offered –to the extent we can – to produce sodium hypochlorite for other utilities that may need it.  If we get requests, we’re ready and able to assist other utilities.”

Oregon officials say tap water across the state is safe to drink. 

The chlorine producer plans to be running again later this month. 

Copyright 2021, KLCC. 

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
Jen is an intern for KLCC, through the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism. This is her first radio news job. She is Oregon-born and raised and loves writing, reading and recording. Her favorite things to write about are community and social justice issues, LGBTQIA+ news and history, and cultural deep-dives.