Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

The announcement that several Baker City residents have been infected with cryptosporidium, and that the city's drinking water is the likely source, is not the first time this microscopic parasite has been on the city's radar.

Several years ago the federal government told cities that don't currently filter drinking water that comes from streams and other surface sources, including Baker City and Portland, that they will have to treat their water to neutralize cryptosporidium, giardia and other contaminants that are resistant to the disinfecting chlorine that Baker City adds to its water now.

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The current deadline for the city to comply with the new crypto rule is Oct. 1, 2016.

The city's current preference is to build a plant that bombards drinking water with ultraviolet light, a process that renders crypto harmless.

A UV treatment plan would cost an estimated $2.5 million.

Last winter the City Council also discussed the possibility of building instead a filtration plant. That would be much more expensive - perhaps $15 million - but it would have the added benefits of purifying the water not only against crypto and giardia, but other pollutants. A filtration plant also could protect the city's water supply were a wildfire to burn in the 10,000-acre watershed and foul some of the streams with ash and dirt.

Here are links to stories and editorials from the past few years: