City of Talent Oregon / News

Post-Wildfire Sampling Requirements for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Due to the loss of pressure in the water distribution system during the Almeda fire in September, a boil water advisory was issued the following day. With pressure restored and multiple bacteria and VOC (Volatile Organic Chemical) samples taken, that returned with favorable results, the boil water advisory was lifted after consulting with Oregon Health Authority (OHA) Drinking Water Services (DWS) on September 16, 2020.  

In October, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) Drinking Water Services (DWS) provided residents post wildfire VOC sampling guidance.  Experience in California has shown that the highest concentrations of post-wildfire VOCs have been found in samples collected from service lines at properties where structures burned.  As propety owners start to rebuild, OHA has determined that sampling service lines prior to restoring service is required to ensure the water being delivered to residents is safe.  On December 1, 2020, OHA provided updated requirements for Post-Wildfire Sampling.

The City has conducted several tests of the City distribution system and to date has found no evidence of VOCs in the main system.  However, OAR 333-061-0036(1)(g) requires the following:

All water services that lost positive pressure during the September 2020 wildfires must sample for benzene prior to having service restored.  

Testing Process and Timing

Samples must be collected 
at the meter set, after a 24-72 hour stagnation period (72 hours recommended) by a qualified contractor and must demonstrate compliance with the maximum contaminant level of 5 ppb prior to City restoring service.  

Results of sampling must be provided to Community Development prior to the issuance of building permits.  Results will be reviewed by the Public Works Director in compliance with the City's adopted Water Distribution Post Fire Action Plan.  

*testing and costs associated with the testing are the responsibility of the property owner or contractor and cannot be deferred.