Medford Water Commission's (MWC's) top priority is providing drinking water of the highest quality to its customers.
Big Butte Springs (BBS) have been MWC’s primary source of drinking water since 1927. Providing 26.4 million gallons of water per day (mgd), the springs are one of the community’s most valuable and significant resources.
The springs discharge water of exceptional quality. It is consistently cold and clear with natural chemical and physical characteristics, which place this source in a "pristine" classification. No man-made contaminants have ever been detected in the spring’s water. The water is low in turbidity, has an average temperature of 43 degrees F. It requires no filtration or treatment other than disinfection, which is accomplished with chlorination on-site. The current state-of-the-art treatment facility was completed in 1993. Spring flows are collected underground and never see the light of day until emerging from customers’ taps.
During the peak-use summer months, water from the Rogue River is used to supplement the springs supply. The river water is also of high quality but additional treatment performed at the Robert A. Duff Water Treatment Plant (Duff WTP) is required to meet drinking water standards. Treatment of this surface water supply consists of coagulation, settling, and filtration, followed by disinfection. The addition of ozone in 2002 provided a dramatic reduction in musty taste and odors occasionally found in the river water. Ozonation also provides additional disinfection benefits. Duff WTP uses high rate multimedia filters and chlorine as primary disinfectants. The plant currently can purify up to 45 mgd. The intake facility is located on the Rogue River and consists of a concrete structure on the edge of the river that houses screens and pumping units.
When both sources are used, the water is blended within the distribution system, although some areas receive more water from one source or the other. The finished water from both supplies is very similar, with temperature being the most detectable difference. The blend can vary continuously depending on the demand for treated water from the Duff WTP.
Big Butte Springs and Rogue River water are very similar in chemical characteristics; both are classified as moderately soft and neutral in pH. Hardness ranges from 32 to 45 parts per million (ppm) and sodium content varies from 4 to 6 ppm in both sources.
Monitoring the quality of the water supply is performed on a regular basis. This includes testing of the raw source water, the treated water in the distribution network, and in some cases of customers’ tap water.
Sampling ensures that the distributed water meets the criteria established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA sets strict standards for drinking water quality and requires monitoring for more than 120 potential contaminants. Regular testing is performed for organic and inorganic chemicals, volatile organic compounds, radioactive substances, microbiological contaminants, disinfection by-products, and a variety of other chemical and physical quality parameters. Many parameters are monitored continuously both at the treatment plant and in the distribution system. In Oregon, the Department of Human Services/Drinking Water Program is responsible for compliance and enforcement of these standards. The water supplied by MWC has always exceeded all health-based standards. However, if a violation occurred we would be required to inform our customers.
Every year the Commission publishes the federally mandated Water Quality Report (Consumer Confidence Report or CCR), which is made available to all water users in the service area. This publication includes the latest annual water quality test results along with detailed explanatory material and resources.
For more water quality information contact these agencies:
Jackson County Health Department: 541-774-8206
Environmental Health Section
Safe Drinking Water Hotline: 1-800-426-4791
Ben Klayman, PhD, PE
Water Treatment & Quality Director