The city of Hermiston has reduced watering of its parks by 10% in response to a chlorine shortage across four states.
Oregon Emergency Management released a statement addressing the shortage, noting that equipment failure at a plant in Longview, Washington that supplies most of the Northwest’s chlorine will “temporarily limit the availability of chlorine for cities on the West Coast.”
Many cities use chlorine to disinfect their city’s tap water and treat wastewater. According to the American Chemistry Council, 98% of U.S. cities use some type of chlorine disinfection process to make their water safe to drink.
The malfunctioning plant, Westlake Chemical, does not anticipate being back online until the end of June, OME stated, and so the department is reaching out to all municipal water suppliers to assess the status of their chlorine supply and see where supplies need shared. According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, some cities, including Medford and Forest Grove, only have a two-week supply on hand.
On its Facebook page, the city of Hermiston said it planned to save about 150,000 gallons of water by watering its properties 10% less, and encouraged residents to take their own steps to reduce water use.
“We’re asking residents to be similarly mindful of their own water use as we monitor the situation,” the city wrote. “Every gallon saved helps us conserve our current chlorine supply.”
The city did note that it is still operating the Hermiston Family Aquatic Center.
According to Oregon Emergency Management, cities with a surplus of chlorine for their drinking water will provide mutual aid to cities with a shortage.
The department stated that members of the public can continue safely drinking their city’s water, but encouraged people to do their part to conserve water to help stretch the chlorine supply.
Residents across the western United States were already being encouraged to reduce water consumption to address the severe drought.