Salem's Drinking Water

Current drinking water monitoring status is routine monitoring. Water is safe to drink. Water is being tested weekly. Water is being treated by slow sand filtration, chlorine, fluoride, and soda ash.

Routine monitoring: Safe to Drink.

  • Where: Algae levels within normal range in watershed
  • Testing: Water tested weekly
  • Treatment: Water treated by slow sand filtration, chlorine, fluoride, and soda ash

Below are the most recent press releases sent out regarding Salem water quality. We post water quality test data within 24-hours of drawing the water sample.

If conditions warrant a water advisory, we will let you know through the Salem Community Alert System, the status at the top of this page, in a press release posted below and to the homepage of our website, through local media, and posts on the City of Salem Facebook and Twitter social media accounts.

Safe Drinking Water Today and for Our Future

Salem's water treatment facility on Geren Island in the North Santiam River has served Salem residents top quality drinking water since 1937.

The current treatment steps include filtration, pre-treatment (when needed) chlorine disinfection, fluoridation, and pH adjustment to reduce the leaching of lead from household plumbing.

Over many years, Salem has made strategic investments in the water treatment facility and distribution system. Now, the City is investing nearly $80 million to improve water facilities and adopt programs to make certain our community has a safe and resilient drinking water system well into the future.

Installing state-of-the-art drinking water treatment method to remove cyanotoxins

The long-term solution for removing algae and toxins is to add ozone as a treatment step. Ozone is one of the strongest disinfectants used to treat water. This treatment produces no taste or odor and no ozone is left in the water after treatment. Carollo Engineers, well known as one of the nation's top water quality engineering firms, has begun designing the ozone treatment system. The project will be completed in spring 2021.

Salem has added treatment steps introduced last summer—powder activated carbon and a modified chlorination process to control cyanotoxins.

Staff are monitoring and sampling water in Detroit Reservoir and the North Santiam River and are ready to respond if cyanotoxins are detected.

In-house capability to test for cyanotoxins

The City has acquired lab equipment that tests for cyanotoxins and gives timely results. This in-house capability gives operators the information they need to make the best water treatment decisions. Salem expects to become the first community to earn state accreditation for this testing procedure through the Oregon Laboratory Accreditation Program (ORELAP).

Detecting harmful algae blooms

Some of the world's foremost experts have been consulted on the best techniques for early bloom detection, including using satellite imagery and water profile testing. The City is partnering with other agencies and organizations to use these new methods to predict blooms and be prepared.

Getting prepared for emergencies

The City of Salem is better prepared today with the equipment, partnerships, and volunteer resources ready to distribute water more quickly, community-wide. 

  • City water tankers. The water tankers have been refurbished and are ready for use.
  • Water delivery trailers. Three water delivery trailers are ready to go starting May 1, 2019.
  • Preparedness. The City is ready to operate eight or more emergency water stations. Partnerships are in place to operate eight additional stations around the city.
  • Volunteers. Salem is developing a database of volunteers, including the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). The City is supporting CERT recruitment and training.
  • Training.  Emergency preparedness classes have been held at Capitol Manor, and business training events are planned. A new course is offered in Spanish.
  • Coordination with the Army Corps of Engineers. The City works closely with the Army Corps of Engineers—the agency responsible for operating the dam at Detroit Reservoir—and coordinates with the Corps on dam operations.
  • Regional Watershed Coordination.  City staff collaborate with the communities in the North Santiam watershed. 

Sharing information with the community

The City is launching a campaign to get more community members signed up to Salem's Community Alert System. The Community Alert System will provide more information earlier in an event. The system also reaches the Spanish speaking households. The City is also increasing its public outreach and engagement efforts.

Exploring supplemental water supplies

Salem is evaluating options for supplemental water supplies that include groundwater wells at the Geren Island Water Treatment Facility and expansion of the Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) system at Woodmansee Park. Other water sources are also being studied as part of the City's Water Master Plan update.

What can Salem residents and businesses do?

Emergency preparedness is a shared responsibility. Four things you can do now:

Please contact the City of Salem if you have questions:

[email protected] | 503-588-6311

North Santiam River

Ensuring a safe drinking water system

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¿Espanol? Esta página contiene informacíon sobre el agua para beber de Salem. Sí usted desea recibir informacíon en español, por favor llame al 503-588-6311.

Man testing quality of natural water.

​Water Quality Monitoring & Testing

We monitor conditions in the watershed all year, and watch weather conditions and water levels in Detroit Reservoir.

Closeup shot of man helping toddler wash hands

​State of the Art Treatment

The City of Salem now uses three water methods to clean drinking water at the Geren Island Water Treatment Facility  and prevent cyanotoxins from entering Salem's finished drinking water. Learn more.

North Santiam River upstream from Stayton

​Salem's Source Water

The North Santiam River is an important source of high-quality drinking water for many communities, businesses, local agriculture and small cities along the river's edge.

Cyantoxin bloom from blue-green algae


Cyanotoxins are released from certain blue-green algae that form in surface waters. Learn More

Salem's water quality testing sites.

Salem's water quality testing sites.