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Portland Water Bureau

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

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Kelly Butte Reservoir Construction Complete, Scheduled to Go Online Spring 2015

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January 2015 aerial photo of Kelly Butte Reservoir worksite
Early January 2015 aerial photo of Kelly Butte Reservoir worksite

On schedule and in just over two years, the Portland Water Bureau and Hoffman Construction Company crews have completed construction of the 25-million gallon underground reservoir, overflow basin, and an intricate network of underground piping, multiple vaults, and valve structures at Kelly Butte in southeast Portland.

The underground reservoir’s 394-foot by 296-foot floor, walls, 252 supporting columns, and roof were strategically poured during 2013 and 2014.

Functional testing of the new reservoir and valves will be complete within the next few months.

Backfill around reservoir
Crews backfilling around the reservoir

Crews are now working to backfill around and on top of the underground reservoir with onsite earthwork. During February and March, the reservoir and piping are scheduled to undergo disinfection.

Improving the Landscape

A year ago, crews removed non-native and invasive plants, dead and diseased trees, and unfortunately a few healthy trees to accommodate the footprint for the new underground reservoir. On the east and north side of the butte, the tree canopy that is dominated by Douglas-Fir and Big Leaf Maple trees was largely left intact. 

Within the next couple months, the Water Bureau and Hoffman Construction crews will undertake a comprehensive re-vegetation management project on the butte.

Re-vegetation plan at Kelly Butte
Re-vegetation plan at Kelly Butte

An important part of the approved land use review application, the project includes the strategic planting of more than 1,660 trees and 7,250 shrubs across the entire site.

Planting areas will be maintained so that the newly planted trees and clusters of shrubs are free to grow.

To help prevent and mitigate soil erosion, especially on the hillside slope, crews seeded ground cover plants which have already begun sprouting across the butte.

What’s Next

  • Conduct site landscaping and restoration efforts, including mitigation plantings.
  • Install permanent gates and fencing around the reservoir.
  • Develop maintenance roads, providing access to the reservoir and supporting structures.

The entire project is slated for completion by the end of 2015.

The Kelly Butte Reservoir will serve Portland's east side and be a stopover to supply water to the Washington Park reservoir and southwest Portland area water storage tanks.

For additional information on the Kelly Butte Reservoir project, visit

Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information

Raise Your Awareness & Drive Safely Through Utility Construction Work Zones

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Project in N Portland

For many public and private utility workers in Portland, their ‘office’ is actually a construction work zone on a city street. To keep these workers and others safe, the Portland Water Bureau encourages the public to drive carefully through all work areas. 

Caution in construction zones is vital for the safety of City of Portland workers as well as for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians. To stay safe, the Water Bureau has these important tips: 

  • Know the work zone signs. Orange warning signs are there to help you and others move safely through roadway construction areas.
  • Obey flaggers. Flaggers are trained to move traffic safely through work zones, so pay attention to their directions and obey their instructions.
  • Obey posted speed limits. Speeding through a work zone is a major cause for accidents and injuries. Many states, including Oregon, have significantly increased fines for speeding in a work zones. Pay attention for reduced speed limits and slow down.
  • Watch other drivers and objects. Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and traffic barriers, trucks, construction equipment and workers. Watch out for sudden stops, merging traffic and other work zone dangers.
  • Stay focused and avoid distractions. Do not use cell phones or text while driving. Avoid eating and other activities which may take your focus from the road, this includes looking down to change the radio station.
  • Expect the unexpected. Stay alert for lane or road surface changes, possible mobile work zones and erratic driver and bicyclist behavior.
  • Keep your cool and be patient. Work zones are necessary to improve the roads for everyone and to meet community needs.
  • Find another way. If you know in advance that there will be construction on a street , during the construction use an alternate route to avoid traffic delays. 

Remember, everyone plays a role in maintaining a safe work zone during utility street construction.

Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information

Water Bureau Utilizes the Off-Peak Season Effectively

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Around September of every year, the demand for water supply begins to decrease.  By the first of November, the Portland Water Bureau moves into winter demands, also known as the “off-peak” season.

This normal and expected decrease in water demand allows the Water Bureau Operations Group to take facilities out of service that typically run 24/7 in the peak demand period. The Operations Group then shifts gears into a maintenance mode to effectively utilize the off-peak period.

The Water Bureau’s off-peak period is from November 1 to March 31. This is the ideal time for Operations to perform critical maintenance on pumps, tanks, valves, and the transmission system. During this time, engineering projects are scheduled that require portions of the system to be out of service. Due to the large amount of work and short timeframe, the Operations and Engineering groups partner closely to effectively utilize this off-peak period. Members of the Operations Analysis group maintain an active spreadsheet to track all the different projects and monitor for critical scheduling conflicts. 

This year has shaped up to be a busy one for the Operations Group. There are several large capital improvement projects in construction, including the Powell Butte and Kelly Butte Reservoir projects. There is also an internal pipeline inspection of the Washington County Supply Line (WCSL), several corrective maintenance projects, and the regularly scheduled off-peak activities.

Left: An electrician installs a GridBee submersible mixer in the Linnton Tank in NW Portland. Right: An industrial painter cleans the reservoirs at Mt. Tabor.

One of the regularly scheduled off-peak tasks is the cleaning of tanks and reservoirs. Operation engineers and industrial painters clean the in-service open reservoirs at Mount Tabor and Washington Park a minimum of twice a year.

Industrial painters patch cracks on the interior face of the Mt. Tabor reservoirs.

All of our closed storage tanks are on a rotating five-year cleaning schedule. This off-peak period, the Water Bureau has 17 tanks scheduled for cleaning, including the 50-million gallon Powell Butte 1 reservoir.

Left: An operating engineer III (left) and an operating engineer trainee work to replace a ball valve at the Westwood Tank in SW Portland. Right: A team performs maintenance on a flow valve at Westwood Tank.

In addition, there are several special projects this year, including the installation of three tank mixing systems to help address water quality issues, installation of a new standby generator at Calvary Pump Station, replacement of the more than 50-year old Westwood ball valve that has reached end of life, tank leak repairs at Vermont Hills 4 and 5, various pump and motor rebuilds, and the shutdown of the WCSL for internal inspection.

Dan Allison
Water Operations

Portland Water Bureau's Customer Service Walk-In Center on Monday, January 19

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The Portland Water Bureau's Customer Service Walk-In Center will be closed on Monday, January 19 in observance of Martin Luther King Day.

The Walk-In Center, located on the first floor of the Portland Building at 1120 SW 5th Avenue, will reopen on Tuesday, January 20 at 8 a.m.

For your convenience you may pay your bill:

  • Online 
  • By Visa or MasterCard by calling our automated payment system at 503-823-7770 and pressing 1
  • Leave a payment in the night box located outside the front door at 1120 SW 5th Avenue Portland, OR 97204. 

We apologize for any inconvenience.

Customer Service

Water Bureau Works to Benefit Western Toad Habitat in the Bull Run watershed

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A western toad at one of the breeding sites in the Bull Run.

The western toad has been identified as a vulnerable species by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

The two biggest threats to the species are breeding habitat degradation and an egg-destroying pathogen called Saprolegnia ferax. The female western toad needs calm, warm, sunlit, shallow water in which to lay strands of thousands of eggs that will cling to the stems of plants or other underwater objects near the shore.

To help ensure the breeding success of western toads in the Bull Run watershed, the Environmental Compliance Group in the Portland Water Bureau's Resource Protection and Planning Group work each year to protect and enhance the toad’s breeding habitat.

Staff work to clear reed canary grass from one of the breeding sites immediately before the gates are lowered to raises Reservoir 1 to full pool.

Staff from the Water Bureau's Resource Protection and Planning, Operations, and Sandy River Station groups coordinate annually each May to cut and remove reed canary grass from three toad breeding sites in the Bull Run watershed along the upper portion of Reservoir 1. This is done immediately prior to when the Water Bureau raises the reservoir level to full pool in the spring.  Removing the tall, non-native, invasive grass allows sunlight to reach the shallow pools that are formed when the water is raised.  The sunlight provides the warmth needed for egg and juvenile toad development.  

Environmental Specialist (Wildlife Biologist) John Deshler with a western toad at Reservoir 1 in the Bull Run.

This project is one of 49 measures the City committed to implement when it approved the Bull Run Water Supply Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) in October 2008. The HCP is a 50-year plan to protect and improve aquatic habitat in the Bull Run River and throughout the Sandy River basin while continuing to manage the Bull Run watershed as Portland’s primary water supply.

John Deshler
Resource Protection and Planning Group