Drinking fountains shut off at Multnomah Arts Center over lead levels

originally posted on June 6, 2016


PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Parks and Recreation officials have shut off the water fountains at the Multnomah Arts Center, after finding elevated levels of lead in test results from 2013.

Mark Ross with Parks and Rec said the department had looked through past test results recently, and they found the MAC had test results that “cause concerns.”

Drinking fountains were replaced or installed with filters on May 31, 2016 after elevated levels of lead were found in some fountains back in 2013.

Ross says Parks and Rec leaders found out about the elevated levels of lead on June 3, 2016. It’s unknown why leaders were not made aware of the increased lead levels until three years after the tests.

“I am sorry that Portland Parks & Recreation did not notify the Commissioner in Charge or the MAC community of these test results when they occurred, and that we did not ensure that protocols were in place to ensure immediate and complete remediation,” said PP&R Director Mike Abbaté. “Over the coming weeks, we will review what happened and institute new safety and reporting protocols.

Some corrective actions have been taken, but Ross says all fountains have been shut off and the sinks have been marked not for drinking as a precautionary measure.

“We are retesting the site so that our staff and visitors can be assured that lead levels for drinking water are within EPA guidelines,” Abbaté said.

In the meantime, bottled water has been provided for all MAC staff and visitors.

Officials will also test water at the Portland Children’s Museum and the Fulton Community Center, due to the age of the buildings and the likelihood for prolonged access to drinking water by vulnerable populations (expectant mothers or young children). Ross said officials have started a flushing protocol at those sites prior to opening them each day.

“I have directed PP&R to institute immediate testing of the three priority park sites, and to work with technical experts to review the potential need for periodic systematic testing throughout our facilities,” said Commissioner Amanda Fritz. “I have also requested information on remediation work that has occurred in the past at all Parks facilities, and an explanation of the delay in taking action at Multnomah Arts Center. We know that many Parks buildings have infrastructure such as pipes that needs replacing. I will continue to prioritize public safety and prudent investments to keep working on fixing our aging parks.”

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