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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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This Saturday: Learn About Portland's Groundwater at "Aquifer Adventure!"


Do you need to get in touch with your inner-pirate? Practice for "talk like a pirate day?" Want to learn about groundwater - Portland's hidden drinking water treasure? Then join the Portland Water Bureau for Aquifer Adventure - a family friendly pirate-themed groundwater festival. Aquifer Adventure is for anyone who loves seeking treasure, dressing up like a pirate and is interested in learning more about groundwater. We will have fun interactive games, a treasure hunt, live music and food for purchase. Build an edible aquifer, pretend to be a molecule of water traveling through the ground, test your water knowledge and race against the clock to learn about water conservation. New this year is a treasure hunt that will take you along the Columbia Slough to seek clues and fun facts.

Aquifer Adventure is FREE and suitable for all ages. No registration is required. Come prepared to walk, explore and learn fun facts about groundwater. We hope that you can join us.

Saturday, September 18

Noon to 4:00 p.m.

NE 166th Ave. at Airport Way


Check out our cool flier and tell all your friends!

Water Bureau Employees

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People Behind the Water

Before a Portland Water Bureau capital construction project starts, you will find Tim Hall, senior public outreach coordinator, out in the community. He'll be talking with people - especially residents and businesses affected by the construction - about the reasons a project is being built and how construction may affect them.

For more than three years Tim has been actively working with homeowners living near Powell Butte as well as park users to address their concerns about the reservoir project and to act on their suggestions. Using posters on park kiosks, articles in community newspapers, public meetings and presentations to local neighborhood associations and interest groups, Tim keeps the public updated on the project's status. He also monitors construction activities to determine if there are any pending community impacts such as road closures, dust and noise.

You'll frequently find Tim at community events like the recent East Portland Expo explaining the work on Powell Butte and the upcoming reservoir construction at Kelly Butte, also located in Southeast Portland. He also works on other projects throughout Portland.

"Updating and improving Portland's 100-year-old water system never stops," says Tim. "My job is helping people understand how the Water Bureau is working to ensure that when they turn on the faucet, clean, safe water flows out of the tap."


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People Behind the Water

Water Bureau electrician Mike Popp is part of a crew of skilled 

workers who perform electrical diagnostics, maintenance, repairs,

and installations at various sites throughout the water distribution system.

Public Safety

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Water Service for Fire Protection

Did you know Portland has fire hydrants every 1,000 feet (as the crow flies)? That's the standard spacing of fire hydrants in residential areas. In higher-density areas, the standard is every 500 feet. Downtown there are two hydrants for each intersection. Those numbers add up -- to 14,200 hydrants!


Hydrants are color-coded to give important information to firefighters.


The Water Bureau maintains them all - it's an essential public safety function of our city.


Periodically, you will see Water Bureau personnel releasing water from hydrants. Hydrant flushing is necessary to test the hydrants to make sure adequate flow and pressure is available. Flushing is also done to remove sediment from the pipes in order to maintain water clarity and quality in the distribution pipes.

Bull Run Watershed

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Hickman Butte Lookout Improvements

Hickman Butte Lookout is located in the Bull Run Watershed. Forest Service employee Jim Kelley (pictured) watches for fire outbreaks from lightning strikes and provides early warning. Although it doesn't see much fire activity, should a fire start in the watershed, extinguishing it is of high priority to protect the quality of Portland's water supply.

This past summer, Water Bureau engineer Leigh Kojiro and electrical supervisor Marc Crowder went up to lookout to do an evaluation of the existing electrical system powering the lookout. Here is an excerpt from their report.


A.    Existing Solar Panel / Systems

  1. These are old, and show signs of internal condensation. These had ratings of 45W per panel.
  2. Three panels are in parallel, and are not powering anything (they connect to a charging controller, but not to a battery or load). It was supposed to run a Water Bureau radio that exists, but is not connected/powered.
  3. The other two panels are also in parallel, connected to a separate charging controller and to a battery (12vdc). The load is the forest service radio, the smoke detector, CO detector and 2 dc incandescent lights.
  4. Both panels sets face south, the 3-set at a lower angle than the 2-set (the 2-set is more upright) - this tends to miss some of the late afternoon sunshine (once clouds have burned off).
  5. Battery was new as of June 2010. If this is not an RV battery it should be replaced, car batteries are not necessarily deep cycle batteries (these are designed to retain a charge for a long period, not necessarily to discharge over a long period).

B.    Other systems in place

  1. Kelly, the current resident, has his own gas powered generator in his truck, which he can use to charge a battery pack with an AC inverter.
  2. The battery can power an AC desk lamp, or be used as a backup to the in house battery.

C.    Forest Service Tower and Panel System

  1. The Forest Service owns a communications tower adjacent to the lookout tower. It is powered by a dual/redundant panel-charging controller-battery system. The newer panels have a higher power density and provide more power compared to the lookout tower panels. There were four large batteries in place.


A.    Replace panels with newer model panels. The models used on the communications tower appear to be good.

  1. They should be mounted with more of a flat angle and perhaps a bit more turned to the West.
  2. The current mounting system could be modified to support the new panels.
  3. Although there did not appear to be anything wrong with the charging controller, it was not new, and would probably be best to replace along with the panels.
  4. Replace the incandescent lamps with low-power bright LED style lamps.
  5. Replace batteries with larger capacity deep cycle batteries.
  6. If the unconnected panels are not being used, they can be directed to the other load in parallel to boost current charging capacity.

B.    Back Up Power

  1. A small emergency generator on site would be beneficial, could be propane powered. Propane generators are large (7kW). Portable diesel is more practical (800-3000W).
  2. A wind generator could be an option. 


  1. The grounding system was in the process of getting an upgrade, and will provide a significant improvement over the existing system that I reviewed in the report.
  2. The outhouse was rebuilt and in excellent condition.