Salem, Ore. — The City of Salem is actively preparing for another algae season (May through September) in the North Santiam Watershed. Staff are closely monitoring water in Detroit Reservoir and the North Santiam River and are ready to respond with additional treatment if cyanotoxins are detected. In addition, the City is quickly moving forward on the construction of long-term improvements to drinking water treatment and backup water supplies that will ensure safe drinking water for Salem business and residents for years to come.
In 2018, algal blooms in the North Santiam Watershed produced cyanotoxins at levels that that required the City to issue a drinking water advisory for vulnerable populations. Cyanotoxins can pose health risks if consumed in drinking water at levels defined by the Oregon Health Authority. Powdered activated carbon has since been added to the drinking water treatment process, as needed, to remove cyanotoxins and to keep our water safe.
The City's long-term solution for removing cyanotoxins and ensuring safe drinking water is to add ozone as an additional treatment step. Ozone is one of the strongest disinfectants used to treat drinking water. It produces no taste or odor and no ozone remains in the water after treatment. Design of the new ozone treatment system has been completed, and construction is now underway. The new ozone treatment system is scheduled to be completed in spring 2021.
Salem is also exploring new and expanded backup water supplies, including additional wells at the Geren Island Water Treatment Facility and improvements to the Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) System at Woodmansee Park. This system stores drinking water for backup use in a natural underground aquifer. Construction on these drinking water improvements will begin this year, and they are expected to be completed by 2022.
Salem's water remains safe to drink. The City will continue to provide updates to the community as the 2020 algae season moves forward. Residents are encouraged to visit the City's website at www.cityofsalem/drinking-water for additional information.