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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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Safety First. Safety Last. Safety Always.

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Safety First. Safety Last. Safety Always.

Water Operations Mechanic Rob Martineau flags traffic at a water construction work site.

The Water Bureau recognizes that digging up streets to make repairs to the water system can create disruptions to traffic and commutes, however we take safety VERY seriously.

We know folks are eager to get where they are going, but please slow down in construction zones. Our workers place themselves in vulnerable positions in traffic to get their work done - so that you can continue to have good, clean, reliable water service. Help make sure that they go home safe to their own families at the end of the work day.

Thank you!

-Sarah Bott

Understanding Your Bill: Portland Harbor Superfund Charge

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Understanding Your Bill: Portland Harbor Superfund Charge

Due to sediment contamination, the EPA designated the Lower Willamette River between the Fremont Bridge and Sauvie Island as the Portland Harbor Superfund site in December 2000. The City of Portland owns over 20 stormwater or combined sewer outfall pipes that drain into Portland Harbor. The City is a potentially responsible party because of the potential of the City's stormwater system to carry contamination from upland areas to the river. The EPA ordered this investigation to identify the cause, extent and nature of Portland Harbor contamination and to evaluate health risks to humans, fish and wildlife.  

The Superfund charge is not a new charge. In July 2007, the City added a Portland Harbor Superfund Program line item to the City water and sewer bill to show ratepayers exactly what portion of their sewer bills pay for the Portland Harbor investigation. City of Portland sewer rates have paid the City's share of this investigation since 2001.  

The charge is based on both impervious area (I/A) and sewer volume (measured in one hundred cubic feet, or CCF). The current rate for the Superfund charge is 0.09 per each CCF of billed sewer volume and $0.34 per each thousand square feet of I/A (Impermeable Area). The $0.09 is based on either the actual measured water volume or on the winter average, whichever is less.

More information about the Portland Harbor cleanup is available from the The Bureau of Environmental Services.

-Sarah Bott

Cycle the Well Field!

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"Portland's Most Unique Bike Tour"

Cycle the Well Field!


You are invited to join the Portland Water Bureau and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council on Saturday, June 4 for a bicycle tour through Portland's Columbia South Shore Well Field and Groundwater Protection Area. Located in the Columbia Slough Watershed, the well field is capable of producing close to 100 million gallons per day. The well field is used as an emergency back up source to the Bull Run reservoirs and to augment the region's water supply during the summer when demand for water is high. It is because of this excellent groundwater source that Bull Run can be maintained as an unfiltered water system. Come join us to learn more. 


The Ride: Portland Water Bureau staff will reveal the mysteries of groundwater as we ride through the groundwater protection area. At several stops along the way, you will learn about local hydrology, how groundwater provides flexibility and reliability to the city's water supply and how you can protect this important resource. Bring your bike, helmet, water and lunch. Dress for the weather.


Length and Difficulty: The ride is approximately 16 miles over relatively flat terrain. We ride at a slow to moderate pace with multiple stops and lunch at Blue Lake Park. Suitable for advanced beginners and intermediate riders due to the length and possible headwinds. Ages 12 and up are welcome. Helmets and pre-registration are required.


Start/Finish Location: aloft Hotel at Cascade Station (MAX Station) - 9920 NE Cascades Parkway, Portland, OR 97220


Date and Time: Saturday, June 4, 2011. 8:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.


RegistrationSpace is limited so register now by contacting Melissa Sandoz: 
Or register on-line at:


But hey, don't take it from us - read what the Portland Mercury had to say about our bike tour:


Reservoir 4 Gets its Twice-Yearly Bath

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Reservoir 4 Gets its Twice-Yearly Bath

Operating Engineers from the Water Bureau drained and cleaned Reservoir 4 in Washington Park last week. Here are some photos of the debris they found during the cleaning, including chunks of the reservoir (it's 112 years old this year!), batteries, plastic, and tree limbs. Reservoir 4 holds 17.6 million gallons of water when full. 

The open reservoirs range from 100 to 117 years old. While they may look fine when full, they are in poor condition. The concrete is deteriorated, with cracks and chunks missing, the lining panels have eroded, and the steel pipes and valves are corroding. 

In 2006 the Environmental Protection Agency ruled that water utilities discontinue the use of open finished water reservoirs. The three Mount Tabor Reservoirs will be disconnected from the City's water system by 2015; the Washington Park Reservoirs disconnected by 2020.

In the meantime, each reservoir will continue to be cleaned twice yearly, and also when vandalism necessitates it, as this story illustrates: paint prank wastes 40-million gallons of city drinking water.

Click here for answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Portland's Open Reservoirs.

- Sarah Bott

Engineering Staff Give Students Advice on Community Project

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Engineering Staff Give Students Advice on Community Project

On May 10th, eighth grade students from King School's International Baccalaureate program got advice from Portland Water Bureau's Engineering Services staff Ryan Nelson, Erna Foronda and Carol Lane for a special class project. Four teams of students were developing design concepts for an outdoor learning area at the Emerson Street Garden in Northeast Portland.  

The community garden -- located at 822 NE Emerson Street -- is on a former brownfield site that this being rehabilitated by Groundwork Portland, a nonprofit organization that cleans up vacant contaminated land and turn it into community space.


The 21 kids presented their designs on different tables, seating methods, a bulletin/chalk board, and a gathering structure with a roof. Ryan, Erna and Carol considered their concepts and gave feedback and guidance on how practical their ideas were to construct and maintain.

"They had some great ideas and we enjoyed the collaboration," said Erna. "It would be great to see what actually gets built out there in the end."

King School science teacher Derek Craig, working with Cassie Cohen, director of Groundwork Portland, Joe Sneed, garden project director; and Tim Hall, Water Bureau Public Outreach, organized the session to encourage students to explore through their project the fields of engineering and architecture. Adult volunteers will build the students' final designs in June.

-Tim Hall