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Chlorine shortage: Cities ask people to reduce water use

June 18, 2021 GMT

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Authorities in Lake Oswego and Tigard in Oregon and Anacortes in Washington are among the communities asking residents to reduce water use during a chlorine shortage.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports the chemical used in small amounts by water treatment facilities to prevent harmful bacteria growth in drinking water supply. State officials say they have a plan to help water districts across Oregon get the chlorine they need if their stockpiles run low and there’s no threat to the water the public depends on.

The shortage occurred after a power outage earlier this month at the Westlake chemical facility in Longview, Washington, the main provider of chlorine for Oregon.

Matt Marhine, the deputy director at the Oregon Department of Emergency Management, says the shortage is not unique to Oregon.

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“(This) is a situation that is occurring nationally as we see shortages and challenges with chlorine distribution and production throughout the country,” he said.

In the West, the distribution and production of the chlorine used in water and treatment and wastewater treatment is mostly facilitated out of Westlake. The facility had a power disruption due to a power connection failure, which is in the process of being repaired.

“We expect to see that that facility has power before the end of the month and production is able to resume and deliveries get back on track,” Marheine said.

Oregon Emergency Management is working with 33 state agencies to keep the public informed of the water status. However, Marheine wanted to make one thing clear:

“The drinking water in the state of Oregon is clean and safe to use and drink,” he said.

The concern is how long the current chlorine supply will last. Most Oregon water districts have around a month’s supply of chlorine, according to Andre Ourso, administrator for the Oregon Health Authorities’ Center for Health Protection.