By Stephen Floyd
The City of Mount Angel plans to chlorinate its water supply after being directed by the Oregon Health Authority to reduce the presence of potentially harmful microbes.
On Oct. 17, OHA sent a letter to the city after tests revealed a high number of coliforms, which are bacteria commonly found in human and animal intestines.
Because the city has not located the sources of the coliforms, OHA required the city to add a disinfection treatment to its water supply, with a deadline of April 19, 2024.
City Manager Mark Daniel told Our Town current coliform levels are not considered dangerous and city water is still safe to drink. The chlorination will be more about reducing the coliforms before they become a hazard, he said.
Mount Angel currently does not sterilize or filter its drinking water. It draws directly from two wells, Daniel explained. In the past, the water was disinfected as each well has an existing chlorination unit. Daniel said one unit will need to be replaced.
When asked if chlorination will impact the drinking water’s taste, Daniel said residents may notice a difference at first but the city will work to reduce the impact.
The cost of restarting and operating the chlorination units is still being determined. The city is working with its engineer to create an estimate, Daniel said. He added updates will be shared regularly at city council meetings as the city works to meet OHA’s deadline.
During the council’s Nov. 6 meeting, Councilor Tony Astroga said he would like to see redundancy for the chlorination units, as well as testing for free radicals from chlorine salts.
City Engineer Matthew Wadlington said the two-well system provides redundancy if one unit fails or requires repairs. He said the goal is to have as few residuals in the water as possible.