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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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Sentinels of the Watershed

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Sentinels of the Watershed





Deep within the Bull Run watershed are ghostly looking tree stumps that seem to watch over the forest.

The "faces" are made from springboard notches into which loggers inserted a springboard, which is then used as a platform, allowing the logger to stand above obstructions/snow or to cut higher-up where the trunk is narrower.

Logging was neccessary at the time to clear land in order to build the dams and other facilities for collection and storage of the water that would serve Portlanders.

-Sarah Bott

Water source shifts from Bull Run to groundwater due to high turbidity event

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Water source shifts from Bull Run to groundwater due to high turbidity event

 Today the Water Bureau is turning off the Bull Run water supply system and activating the wells in the Columbia South Shore Well Field. Recent heavy rains and increased stream flows have contributed to a rapid increase in turbidity, or suspended sediments, in the Bull Run system. The Bull Run water supply is not filtered.

“We are very fortunate to have this highly functional system at the Columbia South Shore Well Field.” said Water Bureau Administrator David Shaff. “It is very reassuring to me that in times of need, that we have a system in place that can support us during a turbidity event.”

It will take about 24 to 60 hours depending on a customer’s location for groundwater to move through the distribution system. Users will experience water quality ranging between the water quality of 100% Bull Run and the 100% groundwater as the water moves through the distribution system. The bureau will begin by supplying 36 million gallons to the system, and ramp up or down as demand requires. The Columbia South Shore Well Field is a high quality water supply which meets or surpasses all federal and state drinking water regulations.

The bureau will be running the groundwater system as long as weather conditions and water quality dictate. A notification will be distributed when the well-field is shutdown and the system returns to 100% Bull Run water.

Customers with questions can call the Water Line at (503) 823-7525.

-Terry Black

Help Choose Water Pump Station Exterior Design

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The Portland Water Bureau (PWB) and Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) are seeking community volunteers to serve on a project advisory committee (PAC) to guide the development of the external design and landscaping for a new Fulton drinking water pump station in Willamette Park in Southwest Portland. 

The PAC members will also serve as consultants regarding any necessary park trail and road changes.  A new public restroom and park equipment storage room will be connected to the two-story, 6,000 square foot water facility. 

Participation in the PAC is open to anyone who lives, works, or plays in proximity of Willamette Park. 

Starting Thursday, February 3, the PAC members will meet up to 4 to 5 times over a two to three month period working with project architects to develop design concepts. An open house will give the public the opportunity to review and give feedback about the building designs.

In early 2009, PWB and PP&R sought the opinions of area neighborhood associations, local businesses, park users groups and the general public about siting options to rebuild the Water Bureau's 99 year old facility. The public's overwhelming choice was moving it from a residential street to the nearby park.


If you interested in serving on the PAC, please visit: Click on Projects and then on Fulton Pump Station and complete the PAC application form. Please submit your application by Noon on Monday, January 24.  You may also contact Tim Hall, PWB Public Outreach, at 503-823-6926, or to receive a form, or answers to any questions.


Photos:  (top) Current Fulton

pump station on SW Nevada St. near SW Macadam Ave. would be rebuilt at site (bottom) inside Willamette Park. 

Tim Hall

Public Outreach

Maintenance & Construction

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A Day in the Life of a Water Bureau Utility Crew


You see them in the streets as you pass by. Sometimes you get impatient as you wait to go through the construction zone. What are they doing, anyway?

When a leak needs to be repaired or a replacement line installed, when a fire hydrant or fire line needs to be repaired or installed, when lines and tanks need to be flushed or cleaned, and when new or upgraded services need to be installed, our Maintenance & Construction crews are on the job.

The Water Bureau has crews throughout Portland who are on call day or night, rain or shine. The crews are generally made up of a laborer, utility worker, heavy equipment operator and utility crew leader.

The utility crew’s first step is to set up the jobsite by placing traffic control and safety cones around the perimeter of the affected area. The crew then pinpoints the location of the leak (if it's a leak) using listening devices—large metal bars—that are inserted into test holes drilled into the pavement above the buried pipe. Once the approximate position is located, the crew uses a jackhammer to open up the pavement, and the heavy equipment operator uses an excavator to dig out the pavement and dirt above the pipe. With the pipe now exposed, the crew places a stainless-steel, full-circle repair clamp around the leak, tightens the clamps, and then covers the clamps with protective tape to prevent corrosion.

Backfill is then brought to the jobsite and distributed using the excavator and by hand. The crew compacts the backfill with a hand-held tamper, which is a large power tool with a flat bottom that springs up and down with significant force to compress the fill. Another dump truck brings temporary asphalt to cover the hole, which will later be permanently repaired by a paving contractor.

The utility crews must work in all types of terrain, in traffic, at night, in the rain, etc. until the job is done. When they arrive to work, they are never sure what the day will bring except that no two days will be the same. It is difficult and dirty work. They take pride in what they do to deliver water to our customers. Next time you see one of our crews, give them a wave!

-Sarah Bott

Examining the Past, Planning for the Future

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Examining the Past, Planning for the Future 


Brian Johnson of Engineering Services (right) studies a map in detail to determine the location of an underground water main.

As underground space has become increasingly congested with buried utilities, knowing the precise location of our water mains is critical for making improvements to the system as well as making repairs.