What is the Water Quality in Portland, Maine?
Compared to other US cities, Portland water quality ranks in the lower range for contamination excluding Lead.
Most of their 12 contaminants have cancer-causing attributes.
- Haloacetic acids (HAA5) are at extremely high levels: 78x health guidelines.
- Haloacetic acids (HAA9) are at extremely high levels: 137x health guidelines.
- These are both byproducts of the chlorine treatment process most water supplies go through.
Let’s look closer at what’s in Portland water.
What’s in Portland water?
Here are the top 4 chemical compounds in your water and what health issues they can potentially cause:
- Hexavalent Chromium – Potential effect: Cancer
- Haloacetic acids (HAA5) – Potential effect: Cancer
- Haloacetic acids (HAA9) – Potential effect: Cancer
- Total trihalomethanes – Potential effect: Cancer
These are four of the 12 contaminants analyzed by the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org).
These 4 contaminants are rated as exceeding EWG Health Guidelines.
Does Portland, Maine have Lead contamination?
Yes, Portland has lead in its water. The most recent Lead samples collected from 2017 through 2019 showed concentrations up to 4.0 parts per billion (ppb).
The legal limit for lead is 15 parts per billion. Being well-below this level is a good thing.
- Concentrations between 3.8 ppb and 15 ppb put a formula-fed baby at risk of elevated blood lead levels. Read more about the symptoms of Lead in water.
There is no safe level of lead for humans.
- The good news is that 99.99% of the lead can be removed.
See the What Can You Do? section below to learn how to filter out contaminants.
Where does Portland’s water come from?
Portland’s water comes from the Casco Bay Frontal Drainages watershed.
2 of the 4 water sources in the Casco Bay Frontal Drainages watershed are in Impaired or Unknown condition. These include:
- Fall Brook
- Mare Brook and selected tributaries
Ideally, a water source would be rated in Good condition.
Whether a water source is in Impaired or Good condition refers to the quality of three uses:
- Aquatic Life
- Fish and Shellfish Consumption
Learn more from How’s My Waterway
See below for what you can do to improve Portland’s water.
What Can You Do?
Information about water quality in Portland can be surprising.
But there are things you can do in your home to clean up your water.
To Remove Lead and Other Contaminants In Your Home:
There is one solution that beats Brita, PUR, and expensive whole house systems.
- It costs less per gallon.
- Needs fewer filter changes.
- And it doesn’t make your water taste weird.
- Use Berkey filters with activated carbon to filter out at least 75% of contaminants in your drinking water.
- To filter out 10 of the 12 contaminants, consider a Reverse Osmosis water filtration system for your house.
*Chlorination is an effective method of disinfecting/treating drinking water. You can then use a water filter to reduce the effects of chlorination byproducts to get the safest, cleanest water possible.
In Your Community:
Contact your local government officials and put pressure on them to invest in cleaner waterways and upgraded city water filtration and treatment.
Go to: https://www.portlandmaine.gov/ to find contact information for your local officials.