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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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A Benson Bubbler with a View

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While most Benson Bubblers live in downtown Portland, Oregon, one resides at the Maryhill Museum of Art in the Gorge.

While most Portlanders love our iconic Benson Bubblers, many don't realize that these four-bowled drinking fountains are the responsibility of the Portland Water Bureau. We maintain 52 bubblers in the Portland area, most of which fall inside downtown boundaries. In fact, in the 1970's the Simon Benson family asked that the we abstain from installing Benson Bubblers anywhere outside of downtown as to not dilute their uniqueness.

We hear a lot from community groups who appreciate the drinking water that the bubblers provide not only to thirsty Portlanders, but also to our homeless community. I am willing to bet that Simon Benson, who donated money for the first 20 bubblers after seeing a little girl crying at a parade because she couldn't find a drink of water, would be proud to see what a symbol of public service his fountains have become to our city.

One interesting fact I've always enjoyed about the bubblers is that there are two Benson Bubblers who "live" well outside of Portland. One, a gift to a sister city, resides in Saporro Japan. The other lives at the Maryhill Museum of Art in the Columbia River Gorge. Simon Benson was good friends with Sam Hill... and the rest is history. Seeing as how a trip to Saporro is not anywhere in my immediate future, I stopped to check out the Maryhill Museum Benson Bubbler on my way home over Memorial Day weekend.

It goes without saying that unless that Saporro Benson Bubbler lives in an unimaginably fantastic setting, the Maryhill Benson has the best view of them all! One interesting note about the Maryhill Benson is that it has been retrofitted with push buttons. We tried that for awhile here in Portland but had two problems: the community hated the look and complained, and metal thieves pilfered the buttons with such expediency that it became nearly impossible to keep them all working. Eventually, we had to remove the push buttons. However, other conservation efforts have been made over the past several years to maintain the balance between community need and water conservation.

Here are some photos of the Maryhill Benson Bubbler. Enjoy!

The Benson Bubbler at the Maryhill Museum of Art has the best view of them all!








This Benson Bubbler has been fitted with push buttons - the Water Bureau tried to do that for in-town Bubblers but the effort was unsuccessful.















Two Benson Bubblers can be found outside of Portland ... one is at the Maryhill Museum of Art.

















Jennie Day-Burget

Dry Weather Season (If You Remember What That Is) Means Water Line Flushing for Portland's Water Mains

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To the Water Bureau, warm, dry days mark the beginning of Uni-Directional Flushing (UDF) season on Portland's eastside.

Assuming that the weather forecast is not a big liar (and at this point, I'm not convinced that it isn't) Portland has some warm, dry days ahead. (this is a good thing because I'm pretty sure I'm molding)

To you, warm, dry days mark the beginning of wonderful summer: picnics, hikes, wine country... all the outdoor activities your little heart desires.

Participants in Field Day 2009 watched UDF on Portland's eastside.To the Water Bureau, warm, dry days mark the beginning of Uni-Directional Flushing (UDF) season on Portland's eastside. UDF is done in order to combat dirty water that may or may not build up over time in the city's water infrastructure which, in turn, helps to ensure that we're continuing to serve Portland the best drinking water in the world.

The process is fairly simple and you may notice it happening in your eastside neighborhood one day soon. Crews open up fire hydrants and water rushes out thus eliminating itself from the system. The sudden rush of water also provides an internal cleaning of sorts to the water mains, grabbing accumulated sediment on its way out. As it exits the hydrant, water filters through de-chlorination tabs (look a bit like a hockey puck) to eliminate chlorine from it before it goes into the sewer system.

We're often asked if we reuse the UDF water in any way. We don't. However, we have looked into it and found that doing so is not only cost prohibitive but so labor intensive that it doesn't make sense from a sustainability standpoint.

Jennie Day-Burget

Changes to Air Compressor Save Energy and Dollars

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Recent operation changes for the air compressor at the Water Bureau's Interstate facility are saving money and lowering the bureau's carbon footprint.

As the bureau's Sustainbility Coordinator, I thought I should share this tidbit with you, written by PWB Engineer, Peter Nierengarten:


Changes to an air compressor at the bureau's Interstate Facility will save energy and dollars going forward.Recent operation changes for the air compressor at the Water Bureau's Interstate facility are saving money and lowering the bureau's carbon footprint.

Continuous operation of an existing 1950's era compressor consumed nearly 45,000 kilowatt hours per year and cost the bureau more than $4000 to operate. Recent changes to the 100 horsepower system included repairing two leaks, lowering the operating pressure, and changing from continuous to on-demand operation.

These changes significantly lower operation time and require only minimal staff time with no capital investments. Preliminary billing numbers indicate a 90% reduction in electricity use. The Water Bureau will save over $3000 per year!

Kim Dinan

The Water Bureau Recycles!

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The City of Portland has set a 2015 goal to recycle 85% of the waste that would otherwise go to the landfill.

The City of Portland has set a 2015 goal to recycle 85% of the waste that would otherwise go to the landfill.

To help the City meet this goal, the Water Bureau is already recycling a wide variety of materials, including:

  • Traditional 'curbside' recyclables- plastic, paper, aluminum, tin, glass
  • Food waste
  • Yard debris
  • PVC pipe and broken hard hats
  • Scrap metal
  • Plastic tarps, barricades, bags and pallet wrap
  • Batteries
  • Electronics
  • Fluorescent lights
  • Toner cartridges
  • Soil, concrete and other horizontal construction materials

During 2009, the bureau's recycling program earned more than $90 thousand dollars in revenue from scrap metal alone. Thank you to all of the diligent recyclers at the Water Bureau for keeping materials out of the landfill.

Kim Dinan

Section of SE 60th Avenue to close for 12 days

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Starting on Monday, July 12, the Portland Water Bureau must close SE 60th Ave., between SE Lincoln St. and SE Hawthorne Blvd., around-the-clock for construction work. This work is an additional part of the Mount Tabor Reservoirs Maintenance and Security Project. The closure will continue through Friday, July 23.

The contractor will install two huge concrete utility vaults -- one measuring 8 feet x 16 feet -- and 50 feet of 30-inch diameter pipe. The magnitude of the work does not allow for plating the street to permit safe vehicular passage when construction work is not underway, or after work hours.

Detour signs and barricades will be posted for public safety.

Motorists and bicyclists are encouraged to find alternate routes. Please avoid using adjacent narrow streets like SE 59th through 51st avenues so as to not heavily impact those residents. The Portland Police Bureau will increase patrols to enforce traffic laws.

TriMet's Bus Line 71 - SE 60th Ave. to SE 122nd Ave. - will be temporarily rerouted during the street closure. See Map below.

Trimet detours line #71








Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we work to improve the city's century old water system.

For more information, please visit, or contact Water Bureau Community Outreach staff at 503-823-6020, or 503-823-6926.

Tim Hall

Senior Community Outreach Coordinator