Dear SUB Water Customer,
SUB is pleased to provide you with this water quality report. In 2022, SUB supplied about 3 billion gallons of clean drinking water to more than 59,000 people. This report is a summary of 2022 test results and reflects the SUB Water Division’s continuous commitment to providing you with reliable, safe, high-quality drinking water, each and every day.
The majority of Springfield’s water comes from aquifers, with a smaller percentage coming from river water, which is delivered through a closed, protected system that is closely monitored. Our water undergoes rigorous testing, far beyond what is required by state and federal laws. In 2022, your water met, and in many cases exceeded, all state and federal requirements.
SUB is the ninth largest municipal water system in Oregon, with 27 wells, one river intake, seven storage tanks, 12 pump stations, hundreds of miles of pipes and more than 20,000 service connections. Managing these assets means taking good care of what we have and keeping up with demands of growth. SUB does this by repairing system leaks, installing new pipelines and connecting our sources with new transmission lines.
Springfield’s quality of life and economic health depend on clean, safe water. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you and our thriving community.
– Your SUB Water Division Team
Springfield gets its drinking water supply from plentiful, high-quality sources in and around the City. The majority comes from 27 SUB wells and several additional wells owned by Rainbow Water District. These wells tap the aquifer, a vast underground formation of water-bearing sands and gravel beneath our community. The remainder of Springfield’s drinking water comes from the Middle Fork Willamette River and is treated through our Slow Sand Filtration Plant. A new source, the McKenzie River, will come online within the next decade.
Protecting the drinking water supply at its source is a top priority for SUB. We work with the City of Springfield, Rainbow Water District, and other organizations and community members to implement the strategies in our state-certified Springfield Drinking Water Protection Plan. Recently, the state Department of Environmental Quality provided supplemental information in its Updated Source Water Assessment, which further evaluates risks to groundwater and surface water and supplements the Springfield Drinking Water Protection Plan. For more information, contact SUB’s Drinking Water Source Protection Coordinator at 541-744-3745.
Information from the EPA on contaminants in drinking water
Drinking water (even bottled water) may contain small amounts of some contaminants. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that water poses a health risk. For more information about contaminants and the potential health effects, call the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.
The sources of drinking water (both tap water and bottled water) include rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, reservoirs, springs, and wells. As water travels over the surface of the land or through the ground, it dissolves naturally-occurring minerals and, in some cases, radioactive material, and can pick up substances resulting from the presence of animals or from human activity. About three quarters of Springfield’s drinking water is provided by groundwater wells and the other one quarter is provided by a blend of river and well water that is filtered.
Contaminants that may be present in source water include:
- Inorganics, such as salts and metals, which can be naturally-occurring or result from urban stormwater runoff, industrial or domestic wastewater discharges, oil and gas production, mining, or farming.
- Microbial, such as viruses, and bacteria which may come from sewage treatment plants, septic systems, agricultural livestock operations, and wildlife.
- Organic chemical contaminants, including synthetic and volatile organic chemicals, which are byproducts of industrial processes and petroleum production, and can also come from gas stations, urban stormwater runoff, and septic systems.
- Pesticides and herbicides, which may come from a variety of sources such as agriculture, urban stormwater runoff, and residential uses.
- Radioactive contaminants, which can be naturally-occurring or be the result of oil and gas production and mining activities.
Health information for people with special health needs
To ensure safe drinking water, EPA regulates the amount of certain contaminants in water provided by public water systems. The Food and Drug Administration establishes limits for contaminants in bottled water to provide the same protection for public health.
Some people may be more vulnerable than others to contaminants in drinking water. Immuno-compromised persons such as persons with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, persons having undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, infants and some elderly people can be particularly at risk from infections. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers. EPA/CDC guidelines on appropriate means to lessen the risk of infection by cryptosporidium and other microbial contaminants are available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791.
This chart lists all regulated detections in water sampled as part of SUB’s water quality program. If a known health-related contaminant is not listed, it was not detected.
A key to abbreviations and terminology used in this document:
AL or ACTION LEVELS: Concentration of a contaminant which, if exceeded, triggers treatment or other requirements a water system must follow.
Federal Limit or MAXIMUM CONTAMINANT LEVEL: The highest level of a contaminant allowed in drinking water. MCLs are set by the Environmental Protection Agency to be as close to the MCLG as feasible using the best available treatment technology.
Federal Goal or MAXIMUM CONTAMINANT LEVEL GOAL: The level of a contaminant in drinking water below which there is no known or expected risk to health, as set by the Environmental Protection Agency (MCLGs allow for a margin of safety).
LRAA or Locational Running Annual Average: The continual running average from each previous sample site.
MRDL or Maximum Residual Disinfectant Level: The highest level of disinfectant allowed in drinking water. There is convincing evidence that addition of a disinfectant is necessary for control of microbial contaminants.
MRDLG or Maximum Residual Disinfectant Level Goal: The level of a drinking water disinfectant below which there is no known or expected risk to health. MRDLGs do not reflect the benefits of the use of disinfectants to control microbial contaminants.
N/A: Not applicable.
ND: Not detected.
NTU or NEPHELOMETRIC TURBIDITY UNITS: Units of measure for turbidity.
pCi/L: Picocuries per liter (a measure of radioactivity)
PPB or PARTS PER BILLION: One pound of contaminant per billion pounds of water.
PPM or PARTS PER MILLION: One pound of contaminant per million pounds of water.
RAA or Running Annual Average: Computed using monthly or quarterly results and is a value used for compliance.
RWD: Rainbow Water District, a wholesale water provider.
TT or TREATMENT TECHNIQUE: A required process intended to reduce the level of a contaminant in drinking water.
TURBIDITY: A measure of the cloudiness of water caused by suspended particles.
UNREGULATED CONTAMINANTS: Contaminants that don’t yet have a drinking water standard set by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The purpose of monitoring these is to help EPA decide whether the contaminants should have a standard.
UCMR: Unregulated Contaminants Monitoring Rule
SUB has tested its source water and water from its distribution system for lead. No lead has been detected in water delivered to SUB customers. That means the water coming into your home meets the most rigorous standards.
How can lead get into drinking water?
Some older homes may have plumbing fixtures that contain lead and that can leach into drinking water. In particular, homes built before 1986 may have copper pipes with lead solder. When water stands for several hours in plumbing systems that contain lead, the lead can dissolve into drinking water. SUB helps proactively prevent this by optimizing the pH of the drinking water we deliver to help prevent lead from leaching out of older household plumbing fixtures.
What are the health effects of lead?
If present, elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. Lead in drinking water is primarily from materials and components associated with service lines and home plumbing. SUB is responsible for providing high-quality drinking water but cannot control the variety of materials used in plumbing components. When your water has been sitting for several hours, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing your tap for 30 seconds to two minutes before using water for drinking or cooking. If you are concerned about lead in your water, you may wish to have your water tested. Information on lead in drinking water, testing methods, and steps you can take to minimize exposure is available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline or at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/lead.
What can homeowners do to reduce possible exposure?
- Run water from your tap before using it. If water hasn’t been used for many hours, flush the cold tap for at least 30 seconds or until the water runs colder.
- Use only cold water for cooking, drinking and preparing baby formula. Lead from plumbing fixtures dissolves more easily into hot water.
- Regularly clean your faucet aerators. Lead particles can become trapped there.
- Consider buying low-lead faucets. As of January 2014, all pipes, fittings and fixtures are required to contain less than 0.25% lead.
- Consider investing in a water filter. Before buying, confirm the filter reduces lead – not all do. And remember that contaminants can collect in filters if not properly maintained, so follow your filter’s instructions carefully.
As part of the Unregulated Contaminants Monitoring Rule (UCMR), the EPA began monitoring for PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) several years ago. PFAS are a group of chemicals that have been in production since the 1940s and have been widely used in common items like nonstick cookware and stain-resistant fabrics, as well as in firefighting foams and products. As a class, these compounds break down slowly and can therefore persist in the environment.
In communities where PFAS have become a concern for drinking water, problems are typically associated with a specific facility — for example, a military base where firefighting training occurs or a factory where PFAS are produced. Springfield does not have any known sources of PFAS.
However, because of the pervasive nature of these chemicals and out of an abundance of caution, in 2019 SUB voluntarily developed a PFAS sampling plan. We continue to monitor for 29 PFAS using analytical methods that can detect a broad range of PFAS at extremely low concentrations.
In 2022, SUB sampled at all five entry points, which is where treated water enters the distribution system. Of the five points tested, one (SP/Maia) yielded detectable, but extremely low, concentrations of PFAS compounds. Additionally, Rainbow Water District voluntarily tested its entry points and found the presence of PFAS compounds at extremely low concentrations at its Chase wellfield, with results summarized in the table below.
The State of Oregon has adopted a combined health advisory level (HAL) for a group of four PFAS. SUB’s and Rainbow Water District’s results for those compounds were far below the state HAL. There are currently no federal regulatory limits set for PFAS compounds, but EPA is in the development phase of rulemaking. Because we take great care in protecting the quality of our source water, SUB is continuing to conduct voluntary sampling. We are closely monitoring new developments in PFAS regulations and will work with Oregon Health Authority to ensure that we continue to provide safe, high-quality water to our customers. Please visit SUB’s PFAS Information Page at subutil.com for general information about PFAS and to learn about actions SUB has taken to address PFAS and keep your water safe and of the highest standard for water quality.
Note on storage tank upgrades
As part of a seismic resiliency upgrade project, SUB recoated two of its water storage tanks, one in 2019 and one in 2020, with a specialized product suited for potable water tanks that meets the national standards for drinking water materials. SUB also constructed a new storage tank, which we put into service in July of 2022. Although not required, SUB has since routinely monitored the tanks for 69 volatile organic compounds. These water quality tests have confirmed adherence to the national drinking water standards for coating materials.
Frequently asked questions
Is SUB’s water hard or soft?
Typically SUB water sources have a hardness level range of approximately 1.5 – 4.7 grains of hardness per gallon. This makes our water within the “soft” to “moderately hard” range.
Does SUB add fluoride to its water?
No, SUB does not add fluoride to the water. Fluoride is a naturally-occurring trace element in surface and groundwater.
How much water does SUB deliver to Springfield homes and businesses?
On average, we source, treat and deliver about 3 billion gallons of drinking water a year. That comes to an average of about 9 million
gallons a day. During peak periods in the summer, SUB & RWD can deliver approximately 23 million gallons per day!
Are there more answers to frequently asked questions?
Yes, take a look at our subutil.com website for much more information on SUB’s drinking water quality in action.
How can I learn more about my drinking water?
Learn more about water issues by attending SUB Board meetings, volunteering to help with pollution prevention projects, or by reviewing information on SUB’s website. If you have questions or need more information, contact:
SUB Water Quality Program Manager
Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline
Oregon Health Authority (OHA) Drinking Water Services