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Portland Water Bureau

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

GENERAL INFORMATION: 503-823-7404

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

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Snow, Portland’s Drinking Water, and Climate Variability

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North Fork Bull RunIf you’re a skier or snowboarder you probably noticed how warmer-than-average temperatures caused a record low snowpack across Oregon this past winter. These conditions led to drought declarations for several Oregon counties whose water supplies depend on snow-fed river basins. Fortunately the City of Portland is not dependent on snowpack, but instead gets its water supply from mostly rain-fed reservoirs in the Bull Run Watershed and a backup groundwater system. While it is extremely unlikely that Portlanders will have to worry about water use restrictions this summer, the Water Bureau is planning for summer supply needs, as it does every year.

But what do the lack of snow and unusually warm winter temperatures indicate about the region’s climate future? Climate models project hotter, drier summers and warmer, wetter winters, with more rain and less snow falling at higher elevations. Climate change is basically “shifting the odds” in favor of these types of conditions so that warm winters with low snow accumulation in the mountains will become increasingly likely in any given year over the next few decades. Winters like 2014/2015 may therefore occur more frequently in our region’s future.

And while climate change refers to the long-term change in average and extreme weather conditions, the Northwest also experiences climatic variability. For example, short-term yearly or seasonal fluctuations in temperature, rain, and snow are significantly affected by the El Niño Southern Oscillation and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. These types of events will continue to influence regional climate, especially in the near term. Because of this, Portlanders can expect to see both high and low snowfall winters in the coming years, even as long-term climate shifts make what the region experienced this past winter a more regular occurrence.

To learn how the Portland Water Bureau is actively working to understand climate change impacts to Portland’s drinking water system, visit these resources.

Kavita Heyn
Climate Science & Sustainability

Slow Down for Work Zone Safety

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With dry summer weather just ahead, motorists in Portland will likely see more construction work that impacts city streets. A lot of this work is to upgrade water mains and sewer pipes and repair road pavement. With this necessary work comes an increase in traffic delays. 

National studies indicate that driver distraction is the biggest factor in work zone collisions along with excessive vehicle speed.  And 40 percent of work zone collisions occur in the transition area just prior to the work zone.

  

The Portland Water Bureau asks motorists and bicyclists to keep in mind the following safety tips when observing bright orange signs, cones, barricades, utility workers, and traffic flaggers: 

  • Use an alternate route. When you can, avoid streets with posted work zones.
  • Expect delays.  Plan to leave early so you can drive safely through the work zone and avoid having to rush.
  • Be alert. Pay attention to the driving task and watch the cars ahead of you.
  • Obey all speed and warning signs. They are there for your safety and will help prevent a collision.  
  • Do not tailgate.  Double the following distance.
  • Carefully move over.  When possible give workers more room between them and your vehicle, but do not veer into on-coming traffic lane.
  • Watch for vehicle access. Be aware that temporary construction may impact either side of the road, or adjacent streets.
  • Stay clear of construction vehicles.  Heavy vehicles travel in and out of the work areas and can make sudden moves. 

Please help keep you, other drivers, and utility workers protected by slowing down for work zone safety.

Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information

Celebrate Portland Neighborhoods this Weekend alongside “Your Sustainable City” at the St. John’s Bizarre & Sunday Parkways

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Springtime in Portland means getting outside and immersing yourself in some of the many outdoor neighborhood events across town.

Be sure to mark your calendars and stop by these fun weekend events:

St. Johns Bizarre

Saturday, May 9 
10 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Great music and festivities celebrating the St. John’s neighborhood.

Sunday Parkways

Sunday, May 10
11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Join thousands of bikers, walkers, runners, kids, and adults as they take over city streets in East Portland.

Visit us at the "Your Sustainable City" BoothWhen attending these events, don’t forget to stop and visit the "Your Sustainable City" booth, staffed by City of Portland employees hailing from the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and the Portland Water Bureau. Other bureaus in the partnership include Bureau of Development Services, Auditor’s Office, OMF/Purchasing, Portland Bureau of Transportation, and Emergency Management.

At the booth, you will find information on multiple sustainability-focused programs the city offers to citizens, including transportation alternatives, water efficiency, recycling, green building, community engagement, and more!

These fun events present a great way to connect with the community and share water knowledge with the public. We hope to see you there!

Judi Ranton
Water Conservation

Volunteer to Maintain Natural Resources at Powell Butte Nature Park

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On Saturday, May 9 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, the public is invited to volunteer alongside the Friends of Powell Butte Nature Park, Hands On Greater Portland, and Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) to perform needed trail maintenance and restoration work at Powell Butte Nature Park.

Volunteers are encouraged to wear long thick pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and sturdy shoes. Bring a backpack, water bottle, rain gear, and sunhat. Instruction, tools, gloves, and small treats will be provided.

Meet at the SE Ellis Street and SE 145th Avenue. Recommended parking is on SE Ellis Street.

Please be aware that a major construction project is under completion within the Powell Butte Nature Park. Volunteers are reminded to keep out of fenced hazardous construction areas and to stay on open designated park trails during the restoration event.

Volunteers are asked to RSVP online to Hands On Portland.

Kevin Duff
Park Technician

Council Hearing Deliberation on Proposed Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project Type IV LUR Application Scheduled for May 13

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A City Council hearing on the Water Bureau’s proposed Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project Type IV Land Use Review (LUR) application will be held on Wednesday, May 13 at 2 p.m. in City Hall Council Chambers at 1221 SW 4th Avenue.

Members of the public are welcome to attend; no testimony will be accepted. During the hearing, Council is scheduled to deliberate and, if they are ready, take a tentative vote. They would direct that written findings be brought back to them at a specified future date for Council adoption. That would be their final decision.

For additional information on the Type IV LUR application and process, visit www.portlandoregon.gov/water/wpreservoirs/LUR.

Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information