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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.


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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.


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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.


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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 held at 12:15 PM in the City of Medford Lausmann Annex, 200 S. Ivy St. - Room 151, Medford, Oregon. For more information, call 541-774-2440.


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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, ATTN: Public Information, 200 S. Ivy St. - RM 177, Medford, OR 97501. The EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline can be reached at 800-426-4791.


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Q: Does the Commission add fluoride to the water?

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


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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