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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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Hexavalent Chromium in Portland?s Drinking Water

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Hexavalent Chromium in Portland’s Drinking Water 

In response to a report by the national Environmental Working Group on possible hexavalent chromium (chromium-6) contamination in water, the Portland Water Bureau wants to reassure customers that our water is safe to drink.

Portland has a long history of protection for both of its drinking water sources - the Bull Run watershed and the Columbia South Shore Well Field. These measures protect Portland’s drinking water from industrial contaminants such as hexavalent chromium. The Water Bureau monitors for total chromium far more often than is required, and in the majority of all samples, chromium is not detected.

Hexavalent chromium is not a regulated contaminant and has not been tested separately in Portland’s drinking water. It is, however, a component of total chromium, which is regularly tested. In the past, very short holding times in sampling for hexavalent chromium have precluded its testing (i.e. samples could not be delivered to contract labs within the time required for analysis). Hexavalent chromium is currently being reviewed by the EPA for regulation.

No water utility has the resources to test for the thousands of substances in our environment, many occurring naturally, that are now able to be detected at micro levels by new scientific methods. Therefore we continue to support research by the EPA, the Water Research Foundation, and other government and scientific organizations. The EPA is currently conducting a risk assessment on hexavalent chromium, which will be completed in 2011.

Customers with specific questions are encouraged to call the Water Bureau’s Water Line at (503) 823-7525.

View the detailed monitoring report that the Portland Water Bureau prepares three times a year here:

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Yuck! Don’t Give the Gift of Grease this Holiday Season

Grease can be a harmful holiday present for our sewer infrastructure, and for your plumbing at home as well. As people fry turkeys and prepare other Christmas treats, The Portland Water Bureau is asking everyone to properly dispose of grease after your holiday feasts.

Holiday cooking can leave large amounts of cooking grease, fats and oils for disposal. Grease can be damaging for sewer lines and pipes, just like it can be to your arteries.

These simple steps can help put grease in its proper place.

  • Collect cooled cooking oil, poultry and meat fats in sealed containers and discard with your regular garbage.
  • Dishes and pots coated with greasy leftovers should be wiped or scraped clean into the trash can prior to washing or placing in the dishwasher. Scrape, don't rinse!
  • Place fat trimmings from meat in a plastic bag and discard them with your trash, rather than dumping down the garbage disposal.
  • Never pour grease down the drain – place cooled grease and oils in a sealed container and dispose of it with your garbage.
  • Other materials that cause trouble in sewer lines include 'flushable wipes,' kitty litter, plastic/cardboard feminine hygiene applicators, disposable diapers, prophylactics and personal care products, and cigarette butts.

-Sarah Bott

The Anti-Bottle:

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A Foldable Water Bottle?

The folks at Vapur point out that “toting a bulky reusable water bottle can be a hassle, especially when empty. That’s why we designed the reusable Anti-Bottle™ to “fold-and-go” anywhere – easily fitting into pockets, purses and packs. Plus, the flexible Anti-Bottle uses less energy to make and transport than rigid bottles. We hope this simple idea will help put an end to the use of bottled water.”

And, yes, it’s BPA-free.

Learn more here:

Beauty of Bull Run

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Beauty of Bull Run Dam 1


Visitors to the Bull Run watershed are often charmed not just by the majestic scenery, but the historic structures that make up the dams, particularly Dam 1. In 1929 the bureau built Dam 1 as a storage facility
in Bull Run, creating Reservoir 1 (also known as Lake Ben Morrow). Total storage capacity of Reservoir 1 is 9.9 billion gallons. Hundreds of employees worked to build the dam.


Water Footprint

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Make a New Year’s Resolution to Improve your Water Footprint

With the temperature on the chilly side, thinking about water (the non-frozen variety) isn't high on the agenda for most people. But we always need drinking water — and clean drinking water at that. In Portland we are blessed with an abundance of water that most of us take for granted.

This is the season of thinking about what we will do in the new year to be and do better. How about reducing your water footprint? Here are a few suggestions:

• Install low-flow showerheads to reduce waste — save five to eight gallons per minute.

• Limit showers to five minutes

• Run your dishwasher only when it's full

• Replace your older toilet with a WaterSense-labeled High-Efficiency toilet that uses 1.28 gallons per flush or less

• Give up bottled water — it takes 1.85 gallons of water just to manufacture the plastic for one 12-once bottle.

The list goes on. So think about what could work for you and make a commitment to do at least one thing this coming year.

-Sarah Bott