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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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People Behind the Water

How the Portland Water Bureau is Organized


The Administrator’s Office is responsible for policy planning, leadership, direction, and operation of the bureau.  The Administrator’s Office also manages security for the distribution system, property management, organization development, human resources management, public information/involvement, long-range planning, government and community relations, legislative activities, and liaison with the Commissioner-in-Charge and City Council.


The Customer Services Group performs the billing and collection functions for the Portland Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services for the water, sewer and stormwater management services the bureaus provide. Representatives inform customers about the Clean River Rewards Program and assist property owners in applying for their stormwater discounts.  In addition, we perform outreach to low income customers and advise them how to apply for income-eligible discounts. For most customers, the main point of contact is our Call Center staff at 503-823-7770. 

The Finance and Support Services Group provides financial planning, rate setting, budgeting, accounting, payroll, auditing, financial analyses, and fiscal monitoring functions for the bureau.  It also provides clerical support for bureau staff in the Portland Building .  This includes the interfaces to City financial and personnel systems, and other bureau-specific software systems. 

The Maintenance and Construction Group is responsible for repair, operation, and maintenance of the distribution system.  Installation, operation, and maintenance functions related to mains, services, valves, hydrants, and leak detection are performed by this group. This work includes direct services and related support for control valves, carpentry, purchasing and stores operation, and loss control programs. This group manages the Bureau’s two apprentice programs. The emergency crew provides response for outside normal work hour requirements, including main breaks and other emergency responses.

The Engineering Group is responsible for planning, design, and construction of the water system. In addition, this group serves as customer liaison for new service installation, drafting (including geographic information system), surveying, inspecting, and maintaining records on distribution system improvements. This group manages the bureau’s emergency management program. It also has responsibility for developing facility standards, asset management, contract management, and developing and managing the bureau’s CIP.  Administrative oversight of the Hydroelectric Power function is conducted within this group.

The Resource Protection and Planning Group is responsible for watershed and groundwater resource management and coordination with federal, state and local partners to protect the quality of both of Portland’s drinking water sources.  This responsibility includes addressing legislative and regulatory issues and performing integrated resource planning, comprehensive planning on major issues, supply and demand analysis, and coordination of the Regional Water Provider’s Consortium.  This bureau work group is also responsible for the City’s business, residential and multifamily water conservation programs and bureau sustainability efforts.


The Operations Group is responsible for the operation and maintenance of water supply and treatment from the Watershed and the Columbia South Shore Well Field.  This group operates and maintains the conduits, terminal storage reservoirs, tanks, pump stations, water treatment facilities, pressure regulators, an accredited Laboratory, and the Water Control Center.  Work responsibilities include water quality protection, regulatory compliance, laboratory services, system metering, and addressing water quality customer complaints.  This group is also responsible for grounds maintenance and operation and maintenance of the decorative and drinking fountains.


PICTURED ABOVE: Teresa Elliott, Principal Engineer 


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Water Bureau SHARP Certified for Third Consecutive Year


The Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) is a program that encourages employer self-sufficiency in safety and health management. SHARP is a recognition program which provides an incentive and road map for Oregon employers to work with their employees to find and correct hazards, to develop and implement effective Safety and Health Programs, to continuously improve, and to become self-sufficient in managing occupational safety and health. A SHARP employer is defined as an employer who has successfully incorporated safety and health management principles into their workplace.

The overall goal of SHARP is to:

  • Recognize employers for their achievements in workplace safety and health management,
  • Reduce workplace injuries and illnesses,
  • Provide a means for showing other employers that occupational safety and health can work--for everyone, and
  • Encourage employers to rely less on Consultation and more on themselves as they move down a continuum towards self-sufficiency in safety and health management.

The Portland Water Bureau was the first city bureau to obtain bureau-wide SHARP certification. Eric Fullan (pictured), the Water Bureau’s Safety Manager, shares some background about how we did it.


How did we achieve certification for the third year - what hurdles did we need to cross this year?

The 1st year we focused on management systems and policy. Year 2 we focused on the managers’ and supervisors’ roles in safety and health activities. Year 3 we are focusing on individual employee's roles and responsibilities for safety and health with emphasis on supervisors and crew leaders.

What specifically have we improved this year over last?

We have increased the supervisors “safety presence” on job sites by implementing site visits and safety talks. We track supervisors’ performance and report back to managers.

What hurdles would you like to cross in the next five years? How about this coming year?

This year we would like to increase employee involvement and ownership, and move beyond compliance to best practices. We would also like to increase Labor involvement in a proactive safety culture. We also have target goals for reducing vehicle accidents, property damage, and injuries as part of the City-wide incentive program. This would reduce our overall claims cost and increase Water Bureau efficiencies. We also want to increase our emphasis on health and wellness. This adds up to substantial cost savings, as well.


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Water Bureau Rewarded for Saving Energy

In February 2009, the Water Bureau enrolled in a pilot of the Industrial Energy Improvement (IEI) program through the Energy Trust of Oregon.  This Energy Trust program supports and guides staff at 10 industrial facilities in their efforts to save energy. Sharing ideas and experiences with peers was also a big part of the program. 
Accomplishments during the year-long program included:
  • Energy Charter signed by the Management Team
  • Operation and equipment changed at pump stations
  • Leaky air compressor repaired
  • HVAC improvements
  • Lighting retrofits and motion detectors installed
  • Created energy education program for employees
To top it all off, the bureau was given a $6,960.00 check from the Energy Trust for demonstrated energy savings that resulted from participation in the program.  All told, the bureau saved over 350,000 kilowatt hours of energy during the IEI program. 

Last week, the Energy Trust presented the check to the Energy Committee.  Chief Engineer Mike Stuhr accepted the check on behalf of the Water Bureau.  "The Industrial Energy Improvement project is an example of how the Water Bureau is attempting to reduce our exposure to volatile energy prices and thus hold water rates down," Stuhr said.
Kim Dinan, Sustainability Coordinator

Go Natural with Metro Gardening Workshops

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Go Natural with Metro Gardening Workshops


Cool temperatures and abundant rainfall make fall the perfect time for planting in the Pacific Northwest, and Metro has a slate of free workshops to help you do it naturally.  When Metro recently sent me their class calendar for the fall – I noticed two of the workshops in particular line up perfectly with our water conservation gardening goals. 

Parking-strip paradise: drought-tolerant natives

Sunday, Sept. 12, 1 to 2:30 p.m.

North Portland home garden; address provided with registration

Advance registration required:  

Meet Oregonian garden writer Kym Pokorny and see how she qualified for a backyard wildlife certification assessment and its native-plant quotient. Learn to turn a lifeless parking strip into a beautiful, water-wise and wildlife-friendly wonder.


Winter cover crops for soil health

Saturday, Sept. 18, 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Metro’s Natural Techniques Demonstration Garden

6800 SE 57th Ave., Portland

Advance registration encouraged:  

Learn to grow your own fertilizers for winter soil protection and perfect plant performance. Join horticulturist Weston Miller for a demonstration and discussion of cover cropping the process of planting legumes and grains in the fall for digging into your garden beds in spring as a soil enhancer. Please note: site is outdoors; no restroom available.


More information and a full list of workshops through October are available at


Sarah Murphy Santner

Residential Water Conservation Coordinator

Portland Water Bureau






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City to Bottle and Sell Tap Water?


In Hamilton, Ohio, city officials expect their municipal water to hit store shelves by the end of the year.

At contests in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., Hamilton tap water was named best in the U.S. in 2009 and best in the world this year.

By selling bottles with a City of Hamilton label, the utility hopes to cover investment costs and attract economic development. Total costs are $30,000, including $20,000 for the plant and equipment.

The water might be sold in nearby Columbus, Ohio and Louisville, Kentucky.

If it becomes profitable, the money would be reinvested for water main replacement, infrastructure and plant upgrades at the water department. Beyond that, profits would help maintain prices for the city’s water utility customers.

TWO QUESTIONS: One, where does Hamilton, Ohio get off saying they have the best water, when clearly our Bull Run tap water is the best? And two, would you buy bottled Bull Run?

(Note: see who else tried this: