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Portland Water Bureau

From forest to faucet, we deliver the best drinking water in the world.


1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97204

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It’s That Time of Year: Fall Color in Portland Drinking Water

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It's fall, which means our good weather for the year is ending, and we are starting to see the rains return. This means, as it does every year, that Portland customers might notice color changes in their drinking water.

Fall in the Bull Run watershedThis is a normal occurrence in our system, as our water supply originates in the Bull Run Watershed near Mt. Hood. Before the water is treated and enters the supply system, it seasonally takes on a tint from organic materials that are washed into the streams and the reservoirs in the watershed. Drinking water from the Bull Run is not filtered, which is often why the color can be seen in tap water or staining the filters in your business or home.

The color you see is produced by tannins in organic material, much the same as the color you find in an ordinary cup of tea. There is nothing harmful to your health from these tannins. The color affects only the appearance of the water, and not the quality.

The length of the fall color season varies with the strength and duration of the rains we experience during this time of year and how much organic material is carried into the system.

As always, the Portland Water Bureau constantly monitors the water entering the distribution system to ensure that it continues to meet all state and federal regulations for safe drinking water, and customers are notified of any changes that may affect the quality of the water we bring to you. Any questions may be directed to the Water Quality Information Line at 503-823-7525.

Kate Tanner
Water Quality

Rain Contributes 5.3 Billion Gallons to Bull Run Reservoirs

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Full pool spring 2013

Portland’s Bull Run reservoirs have started to refill.

Substantial rains in the watershed started refill of the reservoirs on October 23, adding 1.8 billion gallons in just two days. As of this morning, October 27, there were 5.3 billion gallons, or about 53 percent of usable drinking water storage in the Bull Run reservoirs. The total usable water supply of the Bull Run reservoirs are 9.9 billion gallons.

The Bull Run reservoirs can hold up to 17 billion gallons.

Tim Hall
Public Information 

Free Workshop About Portland’s Groundwater Supply

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Groundwater 101

Join the Portland Water Bureau and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council for Groundwater 101, a FREE workshop all about groundwater.

When: Saturday, November 15, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Where: NECA-IBEW Training Center (16021 NE Airport Way)

With a mix of hands-on and classroom-style teaching, the workshop invites participants to learn about local geology and hydrology, the vital role groundwater plays in our drinking water system, and what we can all do to protect this important resource. After the workshop, participants can take an optional half-hour guided tour of the Portland Water Bureau groundwater facility.

The workshop is appropriate for adults and high-school students. Light refreshments will be provided.

Online pre-registration is required and the class size is limited to 35 participants. Don’t wait to sign up!

For more about groundwater and groundwater-related events, please visit the Water Bureau’s groundwater webpage and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council’s event page. For questions about Groundwater 101, please call 503-281-1132 or e-mail

Doug Wise
Groundwater Protection

Water Bureau to Meet with Citizens Committee on Washington Park Reservoir Project

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As the project to make necessary changes to the Washington Park reservoirs reaches the 60 percent design phase, the Water Bureau will meet with the Community Sounding Board to further discuss the construction and traffic control plans, and to share with them further refinements of the visible features designs. 

The Sounding Board is comprised of representatives of Southwest Portland neighborhood associations, park users, and Portland Parks & Recreation staff. The group has been meeting since early July 2014 to develop concepts for the features on top of the underground 15 million gallon reservoir and the overflow-dechlorination tanks in the footprint of the existing open reservoirs.

The meeting – which is open to the public -- will be on Wednesday October 29, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Zion Lutheran Church at 1015 SW 18th Avenue. The church is located at the Southwest corner of SW 18th Avenue and SW Salmon Street. There is limited parking behind the church, but plenty of street parking nearby.  The church is easily accessible from the Kings Hill MAX stop and bus route #15.

For additional information on the Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project, visit

Tim Hall
Public Information

WaterWise Tips for Fall

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The rainy weather has begun, a sure sign that fall is on its way. The days are getting shorter, the leaves are starting to turn color, and our gardens are starting to go dormant for the winter. As a result, now is a great time to prepare your garden and watering systems for fall and winter. Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Compost your autumn leaves and other garden debris so you will have homemade mulch to add to your garden come spring.
  2. Add waterwise plants to your garden now so that they can use this fall's rainfall to start getting established. Get ideas from our Waterwise Plant Guide here.
  3. Remember to winterize your automatic sprinkler system and faucets. Taking time to winterize this fall will help to prevent broken pipes this winter and ensure that your system will function correctly when you set everything back up next spring.
  4. Give your lawn a little TLC. It seems a little counter intuitive, but now is a great time to give your lawn a little pick me up for next spring and summer. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Sarah Santner
Water Efficiency