.  
The Board Divisions Doing Business Water Quality Water Resources Conservation Jobs
Back
LINE
Homepage
LINE

Medford Water Commission

Medford Water Commission - 541.774.2430
Frequently Asked Questions - Homepage
Water Quality

Q: How is tap water treated?

A: Big Butte Springs water is treated only with disinfection. Rogue River water first is treated with disinfection and ozonation to kill any potentially harmful bacteria and microscopic organisms. It then moves through a direct filtration process to remove any particles.


Back to top
Top

Q: How does the Commission make sure our water meets Safe Drinking Water standards?

A: Every month, Commission staff members collect and analyze hundreds of water samples from throughout the system. In fact, the Commission tests even more frequently and extensively than the Environmental Protection Agency mandates. The Safe Drinking Water Act requires water purveyors to test for nearly 100 chemicals, radiological and bacteriological contaminants — but we even look for things that are not regulated. Compounds like perchlorate and MTBE -- a gasoline additive -- are not regulated by either the State of Oregon or the EPA, but the Commission monitors levels on an ongoing basis.


Back to top
Top

Q: Are there any precautions the public should take?

A: People with weakened immune systems need to pay special attention to everything they consume. These immuno-compromised groups include people undergoing chemotherapy, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, those who have undergone organ transplants, and some infants and elderly persons. These people should seek advice from their primary healthcare provider about potential risks.


Back to top
Top

Q: How can the public get involved?

A: The Board of Water Commissioners meets twice a month on the first and third Wednesdays. These meetings are open to the public and citizens have the opportunity to ask questions about water-related issues during each session. The board meetings are generally held at 12:15 PM in the City of Medford Lausmann Annex, 200 S. Ivy St. - Room 151, Medford, Oregon; please refer to the agenda for each meeting as locations and times are subject to change. For more information, call 541-774-2440.


Back to top
Top

Q: Who can I call if I have any questions about water quality?

A: For information about water quality, call 541-774-2430. Questions also can be emailed to us or mailed to the Medford Water Commission, 200 S. Ivy St. - RM 177, Medford, OR 97501. The EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline can be reached at 800-426-4791.


Back to top
Top

Q: Does our water contain PFAS?

A: Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) periodically appear in the news regarding their detection in drinking water around the country. Fortunately, both of the Commission’s water sources are at low risk for PFAS, and PFAS have not been detected in either the Big Butte Springs or the Rogue River sources. We will continue to monitor these drinking water sources for contaminants such as PFAS and maintain our robust source water protection programs to continue to bring you a reliable, high-quality water supply at the best value.

PFAS are a group of human-made chemicals that have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries in the United States since the 1940s and found in many consumer products like cookware, food packaging, and stain repellants. PFAS manufacturing and processing facilities, airports, and military installations that use firefighting foams are some of the main sources of PFAS. Click here for more information.


Back to top
Top

Q: Does Medford Water Commission use chloramines?

A: No, only sodium hypochlorite is used for disinfection; ammonia is not added.


Back to top
Top

Q: Have algal toxins been detected in our drinking water?

A: No, algal toxins have never been detected at our intake or in our finished drinking water since the statewide testing program began in 2018.


Back to top
Top

Q: Is there a potential for contamination from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) following fire activity?

A: When returning to your home or business after a fire, there are items to consider to help safeguard your water quality.

During periods of long stagnation (such as a home being unoccupied for several days), water can pick up off-tastes, odors, or colors from sitting in the pipes inside your house, especially in older plumbing systems. To help combat this, open all cold water taps and run the water for 2-5 minutes to flush the “old” water out before using it for drinking or cooking.
 
In addition, fire can cause damage to water system plumbing, and plastic pipe materials are particularly susceptible to fire damage. In spite of the Commission’s high-quality water supply, plastic pipe that is damaged by fire can release contamination in the form of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as Benzene, into the water. These compounds can cause the water to have an odor similar to gasoline and may have adverse health impacts at elevated concentrations. 

If your home or business has plastic piping and has been damaged by fire, you may consider having your water tested by a state-certified laboratory. Neilson Research Corporation is the only certified independent water testing laboratory in our area; their phone number is (541) 770-5678. If you are not a Medford Water Commission customer, contact your local jurisdictions to learn more about the pipe materials in your local water system.
 
Boiling will not remove these contaminants and should not be used as a barrier if you think you may be impacted with these issues.
 
For help, contact our Customer Service Department at (541) 774-2430 during normal business hours. Go to https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/what-are-volatile-organic-compounds-vocs for more information on VOCs.


Back to top
Top

Q: Does the Commission add fluoride to the water?

A: No, the Commission does not add fluoride to the water.


Back to top
Top

Q: Why does the Commission flow water from fire hydrants?

A: Occasionally our staff can be observed opening fire hydrants and allowing them to run for a period of time.  While there is often curiosity as to why this is being done, some customers may also be concerned about this practice, particularly when drought discussions are ongoing within the valley. 
 
While we of course always want to avoid wasting water, our highest priority is assuring high water quality, which sometimes necessitates the flushing of pipes and hydrants.  Line flushing can also occur as new pipelines are being brought into service, but those occur fairly infrequently, whereas routine flushing of hydrants can occur as often as weekly, with frequency generally increasing during the summer. 
 
As is typical of drinking water systems, our pipelines are constructed in loops, rather than being branched like a tree. This not only provides more reliable pressure and makes it less likely that water service to an area will be interrupted, but it also reduces the potential for water to become stale within pipelines from lack of movement.  However, there are situations where lines extend some distance beyond loops, particularly in locations where a pipeline is planned to be extended and looped back with future development.  To avoid water quality diminishing within these “dead end” lines, our staff will flush hydrants in such locations.  When this is done, flushing continues until the water is verified to be fresh.


Back to top
Top

Q: Is Naegleria fowleri found in our drinking water?

A: While the risk of Naegleria fowleri is low given our cold source waters, we understand that some customers may be concerned about news reports of it being found in a treated water supply in Texas. Medford Water Commission’s first concern is the health and safety of our customers, and we have protective measures in place to prevent Naegleria fowleri and other potential contaminants from surviving in finished water, through disinfection and regularly flushing out portions of our distribution system (to keep water from sitting stagnant for long periods of time). To learn more about our disinfection practices, click here.
 
If you are concerned about Naegleria fowleri, there are additional steps you can take to protect yourself and your family:

  • First, it’s important to remember you cannot get infected from drinking water contaminated with Naegleria fowleri. Naegleria fowleri infects people when water containing the amoeba enters the body through the nose. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control advises that if you are making a solution for irrigating, flushing, or rinsing your sinuses (for example, by using a neti pot, sinus rinse bottle or other irrigation device), use water that has been:
    • previously boiled for 1 minute (at elevations above 6,500 feet, boil for 3 minutes) and left to cool or
    • filtered, using a filter with an absolute pore size of 1 micron or smaller or
    • purchased with a label specifying that it contains distilled or sterile water 
  • Rinse the irrigation device after each use with water that has been previously boiled, filtered, distilled, or sterilized, then wipe the inside dry or leave the device open to air dry completely.
  • To protect yourself from Naegleria fowleri-contaminated water, CDC further recommends:
    • DO NOT allow water to go up your nose or sniff water into your nose when bathing, showering, washing your face, or swimming in small hard plastic/blow-up pools.
    • DO NOT jump into or put your head under bathing water (bathtubs, small hard plastic/blow-up pools) – walk or lower yourself in.
    • DO NOT allow children to play unsupervised with hoses or sprinklers, as they may accidentally squirt water up their nose. Avoid slip-n-slides or other activities where it is difficult to prevent water going up the nose.
    • DO run bath and shower taps and hoses for 5 minutes before use to flush out the pipes. This is most important the first time you use the tap after the water utility raises the disinfectant level.
    • DO keep small hard plastic/blow-up pools clean by emptying, scrubbing, and allowing them to dry after each use.
    • DO use only boiled and cooled, distilled, or sterile water for making sinus rinse solutions for neti pots or performing ritual ablutions.
    • DO keep your swimming pool adequately disinfected before and during use. Adequate disinfection means:
      • Pools: free chlorine at 1–3 parts per million (ppm) and pH 7.2–7.8
      • Hot tubs/spas: free chlorine 2–4 parts per million (ppm) or free bromine 4–6 ppm and pH 7.2–7.8
  • If you need to top off the water in your swimming pool with tap water,
    • DO place the hose directly into the skimmer box and ensure that the filter is running.
    • DO NOT top off by placing the hose in the body of the pool.


Back to top
Top

Q: Where does our water come from?

A: During the winter months, our drinking water comes from Big Butte Springs. In the summer water is supplemented from the Rogue River.


Back to top
Top

Q: What is the Safe Drinking Water Act, and how does it protect consumers?

A: For the hundreds of millions of water consumers in the United States, the Safe Drinking Water Act ensures that water quality standards are the same throughout the country. It identifies potential constituents in drinking water and sets safe limits for each of them.


Back to top
Top

Q: If the water meets federal and state standards, why is there so much media coverage about contaminants?

A: All drinking water—even bottled water—contains some level of contaminants. However, these naturally-occurring and artificial materials do not necessarily present a health risk. While news reports about water quality are generally accurate, they do not always convey their risk level. For instance, a contaminant may be harmful only if a person consumes hundreds of gallons of water a day. For detailed information about contaminants and potential health effects, consumers can call the EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791.


Back to top
Top

Q: Do water treatment devices really work?

A: There are a wide variety of home water treatment systems and filters available. Most of these will only affect the aesthetic qualities of tap water. Advertisers' claims about safety concerns, however, are not as clear. There are no apparent health advantages for the general public in purchasing a home treatment system, with the possible exception of immuno-compromised individuals. It is strictly a personal decision that should be based on preference rather than fear. NSF International, an independent, nonprofit organization, certifies water treatment systems and can provide information about the benefits of various devices. Consumers can reach NSF International at (800) 673-8010.


Back to top
Top
printer friendly version Printer friendly version RSS RSS
Contact Us | Site Map | Terms of Use/Privacy | Subscribe
© Copyright 2009 Medford Water Commission - All Rights Reserved
Designed, Developed and Deployed by Project A, Inc

 

 

 

MY ACCOUNT BEINVENIDOS CONTACT US ABOUT MWC HOME