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Bull Run Water Filtration Facility Project

The City of Portland Water Bureau has submitted two beneficial use applications for a water filtration system. One beneficial use application is for the water filtration facility and the other is for the water pipeline. The city is requesting DEQ approval of the proposed beneficial use of soil, with several chemicals above the clean fill screening levels, as construction fill placed on shoulder surfaces adjacent to the roadway, as backfill within the pipeline excavation, or placed upon the 94 acre property that the city owns at tax lot 400 and tax lot 100 within Section 22 of Township 1 South, Range 4 East adjacent to SE Carpenter Lane near SE Dodge Park Boulevard in Gresham. Learn more below, by reading the Public Notice or by visiting the City's Bull Run Filtration Project website.

DEQ regulates the beneficial use of solid waste based on Oregon law and regulations. To qualify for a beneficial use determination, or BUD, by DEQ, the solid waste, in this case is soil with certain chemicals above the clean fill screening levels, needs to meet specific protective requirements: 

  • Manage the material until the time it is used for its approved beneficial use, including any storage, transportation or processing, so as to prevent releases to the environment or nuisance conditions;
  • Use the material consistent with applicable engineering standards, commercial standards and agricultural or horticultural practices;
  • Ensure that hazardous substances in the material meet one of the criteria in this subsection,
    • Will not exceed acceptable risk levels, including evaluation of persistence and potential bioaccumulation, when managed according to a beneficial use determination;
  • Ensure the use does not result in the increase of a hazardous substance in a sensitive environment; and
  • Use the material in compliance with applicable federal, state and local regulations.

Learn more about DEQ's rules on beneficial use of solid waste.

​​DEQ has drafted proposed beneficial use approvals for two city projects: the reuse of soil with certain chemicals above the clean fill screening levels on the city's property where the water filtration system is to be constructed and the reuse of slightly contaminated soil that is disturbed when constructing the water pipeline to the water treatment facility. DEQ is requesting public comment on the proposed beneficial use approvals and will attend a community-sponsored public meeting on June 11, 2024 to answer questions about the proposed beneficial use determinations. Information is published on DEQ's Public Notices page.

Both applications and associated analytical data indicate that the proposed beneficial uses do meet DEQ's beneficial use requirements. The proposed reuse of soil is productive, and the contaminant concentrations can be managed to acceptable human health and ecological risk levels if the soil is managed according to the proposed conditions of beneficial use approval.

The requirements for reuse include using best management practices for handling the soil during excavation, loading, transporting and stockpiling to minimize all potential risks to human health and animals. The requirements also include that the soil is placed below a clean soil cap, so the surface soil, where humans and animals are in direct contact with the soil, meets DEQ's clean fill requirements. Learn more about DEQ's clean fill guidance.  

The Portland Water Bureau proposes to reuse soil with certain chemicals above the clean fill screening levels mixed with clean fill soil at the filtration facility location. Soil with certain chemicals above the clean fill screening levels that is not reused within the pipeline trench will also be stored and reused at the filtration facility location.

A portion of the pipeline trench will be built within a right-of-way, or land owned by another entity or entities. As a request of a right-of-way landowner, the surface soil excavated in the portion of the pipeline footprint that will be built on their property will be reused onsite and not transported to the water filtration location. The City has requested that DEQ approve beneficial use of the soil generated from the pipeline construction project for four reuse options: (1) use of the soil as nonstructural construction fill within the excavated pipeline trench, (2) use of the soil as nonstructural construction fill on the shoulder surfaces immediately adjacent to the roadway, (3) use as topsoil as part of trench restoration of a farm field as specified by landowner, or (4) use of the soil as nonstructural construction fill at the water filtration facility.

Contaminants in the soil that exceed DEQ's clean fill criteria are: 4,4-dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE), 4,4-dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), dieldrin and lead. The maximum lead concentration in the surface soils at the pipeline are measured at 28.3 mg/kg are slightly elevated above clean fill criteria or background concentrations at 28 mg/kg. Background concentrations refer to the chemical concentrations that exist in soils naturally. The concentrations of pesticides exceed ecological risks but are below risk levels for human health. The pesticide concentrations are similar to the concentrations found on neighboring agricultural properties. 

Download the data tables comparing contaminant concentrations to risk screening values​.

From DEQ's evaluation of the sampling data and comparison to risk screening values, the concentration of contaminants are below risk values for construction and occupational workers. The city has proposed and DEQ proposes to approve through the beneficial use determinations specific conditions to ensure that the soils will be properly managed to protect human health and the environment by requiring that the soils be stored under cover until reuseds .

When the soil is placed for reuse, it will be covered with three feet of clean fill or a foot of clean fill and a textile barrier at the filtration facility location. For pipeline construction, soil removed for the pipeline will be reused to fill trenches or stored until reused at the filtration facility property. DEQ considers that reuse of this soil has the following public benefits.

Action: Excavation and removal of surface soil at filtration facility and finished water pipeline alignment       

  • Removes risks to ecological receptors for soil with concentrations above clean fill and/or ecological screening levels
Action: Soil reuse on property

  • Keeps a total of approximately 135,000 cubic yards of soil -19,000 cubic yards for finished water pipeline alignment, 116,000 cubic yards from filtration facility property, out of the landfill, which allows for greater longevity of landfill for higher-impacted wastes

  • Reduces capital costs of the public project by not incurring landfill transport and disposal fees

  • Reduces emissions and pollution through shorter travel distance and time.

Action: Soil transport   

  • Reduction of approximately 5,850 trucks with trailers of soil - 850 trucks for finished water pipeline alignment and 5,275 trucks from filtration facility, that would otherwise be transported from project site to Hillsboro Landfill for soil disposal

  • Reduces capital costs of the public project by not incurring landfill transport and disposal fees.

  • Reduces emissions and pollution through shorter travel distance and time

Public involvement

DEQ offered a two-week public comment period on the proposed beneficial use approval of reuse of soil on the water filtration project site. DEQ was asked to extend the comment period and to provide broader notification to neighboring residents and others interested in this project.

DEQ has extended the comment period and will participate in a community-sponsored public meeting to explain the proposed beneficial uses, DEQ's evaluation and the proposed approval to help inform the community members of the work. DEQ will also facilitate further outreach for this project. DEQ will share the timeline of the extended public comment period and public information meeting on this page and the DEQ Public Notice page

Why is DEQ proposing approval of the Beneficial Use Determinations when the Multnomah County land use decision is being appealed to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals?

The beneficial use rules do not require that DEQ receive a land use compatibility statement from a local government as part of a beneficial use application. DEQ is aware that Multnomah County has approved the Portland water filtration and pipeline project and that decision is being appealed to the Land Use Board of Appeals.  DEQ added a condition to the proposed beneficial use approval stating that if the Land Use Board of Appeals overturns the county land use decision, the BUD would be revoked. In that case contaminated soils would need to be managed as solid waste and disposed of at a DEQ regulated landfill.

Why would DEQ allow reuse of soil that is not clean fill at a water treatment facility? Won't the soil cause contamination of drinking water or leach into storm drains or runoff?

DEQ has evaluated the contaminant concentrations and the types of contaminants identified in the soil being removed and reused. The types of contaminants are not soluble and will not leach or migrate easily to surface water or groundwater. The placement and management of the soil will not impact the operation of the Filtration Facility nor come into contact with Portland's drinking water. The concentrations of contaminants are sufficiently low and below risk levels for drinking water and human health concerns.

How will you protect onsite workers and the neighboring community from the contaminated soil that will be reused?

The concentrations of contaminants are below occupational and construction worker risk values so are not a risk to people who come into contact with these soils. The soil concentrations identified in the soils on the City's property are similar to concentrations found in soil on neighboring properties. Soils will be placed under a three-foot cover of clean soils or under a one-foot cover of clean soils and a textile barrier.  

What does slightly contaminated or slightly over clean fill limits mean? How does DEQ know that these concentrations are safe, and that Portland's water will be safe to drink and use?

Slightly contaminated means that the concentrations detected in the soils are slightly over clean fill limits but are below human health risk-based concentrations. The placement and management of the soil will not impact the operation of the Filtration Facility nor come into contact with Portland drinking water.

How will DEQ monitor the water coming from this site to ensure it's not contaminated? What would DEQ do if contamination from the soil is found to leach in the soil?

The City is subject to a stormwater water quality permit called a 1200CA permit which identifies work practices and monitoring that the City will carry out. DEQ will review monitoring data, reports and may conduct periodic inspections of the project. If the City is found to be out of compliance with their stormwater permit or the beneficial use determination, DEQ will evaluate whether enforcement action is needed.

How will DEQ verify that the City of Portland will follow the Beneficial Use Determination requirements?

Portland Water Bureau will maintain records documenting the amounts of contaminated soils used and where, keep the records for five years from the date created and submit annual reports to DEQ that identify how much soil was used during the previous year. Placement of contaminated soils will be recorded in daily construction reports created by Portland Water Bureau's construction quality assurance team.

Why is this project not going through a normal permitting and hearing process?

DEQ rules do not require a DEQ solid waste disposal permit or public notice process for beneficial use determinations as required for solid waste permitting. DEQ has identified that publishing a public notice is important even though not required by rule. DEQ offered a public comment period and in response to requests received, will offer a public meeting to explain the beneficial use process, answer questions and provide clarification for attendees.  DEQ will extend the comment period to allow people to provide additional written comments. 


The NPDES 1200-CA permit for the City has been approved by DEQ. The 1200-CA permit is a DEQ stormwater permit that authorizes the City to begin construction as long as construction is in compliance with the permit. Until DEQ provides an approval of the beneficial use determination, excavated soil cannot be reused onsite. Excavated soils can be placed in the temporary stockpile onsite or transferred offsite to an approved DEQ solid waste permitted disposal facility in accordance with the site-specific Erosion Sediment Control Plan and the Environmental Management Plan.
Water filtration facility
Finished water pipeline


Technical Contact:
Ryan Lewis

Media Contact:
Michael Loch