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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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Imagine a Day Without Water

By Jaymee Cuti Add a Comment

Some communities in America already know how impossible it is to try to go a day without our most precious resource: Water. On Sept. 15, we raise awareness and educate America about the value of water.

How far in your typical day could you make it without water? Maybe your bedhead look is back in fashion, but most of us crave that morning shower. At the least you’d want to be able to flush your toilet and brush your teeth. For those of us who need a cup of coffee to face our mornings, we’d be stopped in our tracks.

You don’t have to go far to realize how much water impacts our daily lives. Basic household needs and the wider world run on water. Just like we couldn’t make it out of the house in the morning, hospitals would close without water. Firefighters couldn't put out fires and farmers couldn't water their crops.

A day without water can be scary to imagine but it doesn’t have to become a reality if we prepare together. At the Portland Water Bureau, we prepare as part of our daily work – by hardening the backbone of our water system and building storage that will last for generations.

You can play a part too. Learn more about safely storing water for an emergency so you can imagine a day without water but it will never be your reality.

• See HOW to store your emergency H2O.

• See WHERE to store your emergency H2O.

• See WHAT types of containers to use for your emergency H2O.

• Using your own containers to store water for an emergency? Here’s how:

Happy 104th Birthday, Benson Bubbler!

By Jaymee Cuti Add a Comment

Portland is known for many things—coffee and bikes, beer and food carts. One of the most charming Portland legacies is the Benson Bubbler, the four-bowled drinking fountains found almost exclusively in Portland’s bustling downtown. Two origin stories compete for popularity. The first claims that Simon Benson, a local lumber baron, wanted to provide his workers with water as an alternative to beer during their lunch breaks. The second suggests that Benson once saw a little girl crying for lack of water on the Fourth of July, which lead him to make the donation of 20 bubblers to the City of Portland. Either way, Benson’s donation left us with one of Portland’s most iconic features.

As water becomes an increasingly sparse resource in some parts of the world, it is easy to forget how lucky we Portlanders are to have the Bull Run watershed to provide us with clean, fresh water and a secondary and high-quality source at the Columbia South Shore Well Field. Not only do the Benson Bubblers provide us with the opportunity to enjoy our water, but they also help to refresh our water, boosting the water quality. Next time you take a sip from one of Portland’s Benson Bubblers, take a moment to stop and appreciate Portland’s water plentiful supply and commitment as responsible stewards of our precious natural resource.

Bubbler Facts:

  • While Portland is the one of only two cities in the United States to boast Benson Bubblers, each of Portland’s sister cities Sapporo, Japan; Guadalajara, Mexico; and Suzhou, China were gifted one as well.
  • There are 51 true Benson Bubblers in Portland, meaning bubblers with four bowls.
  • Through several conservation efforts, Benson Bubblers use less than a tenth of one percent of the daily water demand.
  • In 2000, the Portland Water Bureau installed timers which shut off fountains during low use periods. The Benson Bubblers are on from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

For more information, visit


PSU Capstone Students Show Appreciation of Water System

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

The Portland Water Bureau has been a long-time partner of the Portland State University (PSU) Senior Capstone program.

The PSU Capstone program is a community-based learning opportunity for students in their senior year of undergraduate studies. This unique academic-water utility partnership helps students learn how to make informed decisions about the future of water systems for themselves, their families, and their communities. It also serves to educate the next generation of potential water management professionals.

PSU Capstone students have developed education and outreach tools to interpret what we do at the Water Bureau for the last several years. Every term there are standout projects that are original, entertaining, effective, or a combination of these three characteristics.

PSU Capstone students Brian and Jacob display their handcrafted three-dimensional topographic model of the Bull Run Watershed.The 2016 summer term students presented their projects this month. Among them was a handcrafted three-dimensional topographic model of the Bull Run Watershed. The intent of this project was to illustrate how geography and topography have allowed our efficient gravity fed system to operate for nearly a century. In addition to being a work of art, the model can be a tactile tool for helping students visiting the Bull Run to understand the scale and complexity of our supply source.

While working on their projects, the students meet with several staff from the bureau to learn about Water Bureau history, infrastructure, and what staff must accomplish to produce cold, clean, and constant water for our customers.

At the end of the term, students were asked to sum up their experiences….and they had some great things to say:

I gained an appreciation for the sheer scope of the effort and thought that goes into ensuring cold, clean and constant water to Portlanders.  This water is thought of so little by those that use it (myself included before this class) which made it great to hear from so many people from the Water Bureau who are constantly thinking about it…. this is clearly more than just a job to the people at the Water Bureau, they take it seriously and seem to enjoy the important work they do.”

As a geography major almost ready to face the real world I am eager to apply for jobs in agencies I never thought would be applicable to my area of study (including the Water Bureau itself).  I am incredibly glad I chose this senior capstone as it has not only been educational, but inspiring to think I could get a job where although my topic may be small, my impact could be incredibly large.”

My final impression of water utilities is probably the same as every other student: How they play such integral parts in our day to day life and that we literally would fall into complete chaos if something were to happen due to some tragic event or something as simple as the water being turned off.  I have more respect for the public utility that works around the clock every day of the year and I hope that I can teach friends and family about how important they are."

To learn more about the program, visit

Q: What do pirates and groundwater have in common? A: Buried treasure!

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

Ahoy, mateys! It’s time for this year’s Aquifer Adventure!     

Join the Portland Water Bureau and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council for Aquifer Adventure, a free pirate-themed festival all about groundwater.

Date: Saturday, September 17, 2016
Time: 12 - 4 p.m.
Location: 16650 NE Airport Way Portland, Oregon 97230

Come dressed in yer finest pirate garb ready to celebrate the importance of groundwater, the buried treasure critical to our region’s drinking water system.

Learn how to protect groundwater while you search for hidden treasure, set sail on a pirate canoe, build an edible aquifer, travel through rock layers as a drop of groundwater, and more.

The event is suitable for all ages, with free T-shirts for the first 300 kids. No registration is required and all of the activities are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Food will be available for purchase.

For more information, click here. We hope you can join us!

Fall 2016 Customer Newsletter

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

Fall 2016 Customer Newsletter

Each quarter, the Bureau of Environmental Services and the Portland Water Bureau offer important information on rebates, payment options, drinking water quality, and water efficiency tips in printed inserts that accompany your sewer-stormwater-water bill. 

In the Fall 2016 statement, customers will find a newsletter highlighting how we’re preparing for the “Big One,” three simple actions you can take today to ready your family for an emergency, and details on a long-term project to seismically strengthen key water infrastructure on Portland’s west side.

Take a look inside your bill or access the Customer Newsletter online.