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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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Rebecca Geisen Awarded for Her Groundwater Protection Efforts

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And the Award Goes to:

Rebecca Geisen received award from Columbia Slough Watershed Council

Rebecca Geisen, senior planner with Resource Protection and Planning, was honored by the Columbia Slough Watershed Council recently with a leadership award. If you've ever attended "Aquifer Adventure" or "Groundwater 101" or "Cycle the Well Field," you've seen her in action helping develop citizen stewardship of our groundwater.

We all saw in the past couple of weeks how fortunate we are to have such a high quality secondary source of water when we had to turn off Bull Run during the turbidity event.

Congratulations, Rebecca! The Water Bureau is proud to have you on our team.

Watch this funny YouTube video in which  "Stephen Sloughbert" interviews Rebecca (played by the Water Bureau's Briggy Thomas) about Portland's Groundwater Protection Program.

-Sarah Bott

Benson Bubblers: Limeric Contest Results!

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Limeric Contest Results! 

Creativity abounds in Portland, as you can see in the limerics submitted for our contest about the garden gnome that some playful rogue stationed in one of our Benson Bubblers. Water Bureau employee Cesar Lara snapped a photo and a contest was made. Congratulations to Allison Madsen, whose winning limeric attracted the most votes ("likes") on the Water Bureau Facebook page. And thanks to all who wrote and submitted a limerick! We enjoyed every one.
A gnome wandered to P-town one day
he decided to hang out and play
splashing so fun
in water from Bull Run
When told to get out he said "Nay"!

-by Allison Madsen


All entries: 

A frustrated gnome named Benson
Was cross o'er a thirst he was sensin.'
He hopped on a bubbler,
And topped off his tumbler,
Then said "here's the cure for my tension."

- by Michael Rick
Our Water can not be bested
Especially when often ingested
But now we should fear
The gnomes drank to much beer
and now the system is infested

-by Dana Gritz
there once was a garden gnome
who decided to make a bubbler his home
he threw his bucket away and decided to stay
when he found a home with a gnome bidet!
- by Allison Madsen
A sleepy old gnome from the moon
Would sit on a Benson till noon
He'd nap and he'd yawn
Till the water turned on
And shot him back home with a boom

-by Emily Bott
I am the PWB gnome
From bubbler to bubbler I roam
To taste fresh and sweet
Bull Run Water – such a treat
I’m so glad that Portland’s my home!

Look for me throughout our downtown
I am continually making my round
Sitting on fountains
And looking at mountains
A treat awaits you if I can be found!

There is no better refresher
Than to drink from the bowl of a bubbler
So join me downtown
Come look around
You’ll love what all you discover!

- by Teri Liberator
Leprechauns, elves and gnomes
Don’t have showers in their homes.
This one raided a fountain
On top of a near-by mountain,
And used bubbles, brushes and foam.
- by Jeff Guard
There once was a old gnome named Ray
Who got quite dirty one day
He drank too much rum
And exposed his small bum
'Cause he mistook a bubbler for a bidet.

-by Mike Saling
What gnome am I that sits a spell
On the bowl of the Bubbler waiting to tell
If it is Bull Run or from the well

I've sat here all night and I'll sit here all day
Until I can prove either way
The Water so pure to the Portlanders say

Drink Tap water only and evryday
Thank our fore fathers for the work did they
To provide the citizens water today

- by Kelly Ray Mulholland

Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It

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On the Book Shelf: What We're Reading

Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It

By Elizabeth Royte


From Publishers Weekly

Royte (Garbage Land) plunges into America's mighty thirst for bottled water in an investigation of one of the greatest marketing coups of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. As tap water has become cleaner and better-tasting, the bottled water industry has exploded into a $60 billion business; consumers guzzle more high-priced designer water than milk or beer and spend billions on brands such as Pepsi's Aquafina and Coke's Dasani that are essentially processed municipal water. It's an unparalleled—and almost exclusively American—social phenomenon. With journalistic zeal, Royte chronicles the questionable practices of Nestle-owned Poland Springs and documents the environmental impact of discarded plastic bottles, the carbon footprint of water shipped long distances and health concerns around the leaching of plastic compounds from bottles. Not all tap water is perfectly pure, writes Royte, still, 92% of the nation's 53,000 local water systems meet or exceed federal safety standards and it is the devil we know, at least as good and often better than bottled water. This portrait of the science, commerce and politics of potable water is an entertaining and eye-opening narrative.


Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water

By Peter H. Gleick

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly

 Tap water is safe almost everywhere in the U.S. So why does someone buy a bottle of water every second of every day? And where do the thousands of plastic bottles discarded daily end up? Gleick, recipient of a MacArthur fellowship and president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security, argues passionately for a new era in water management. [P]ublic access to drinking water would be easy, and selling bottled water... difficult, he writes, and government regulatory agencies should protect water from contamination and the public from misleading marketing and blatant hucksterism. Bottled water companies should be forced to include the true environmental costs of the production and disposal of plastic bottles in the price of bottled water, leaving it as an expensive option that most people will avoid With the gusto of a born raconteur and the passion of a believer, Gleick makes a sound case for improving the developing world's access to and the developed world's attitude toward safe, piped drinking water purified by the natural hydrologic cycle.



Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What To Do About It

By Robert Glennon


Review by Booklist

America faces a water-supply crisis. Profligate consumption of water for agriculture, power generation, industry, and homes has led to reduction of groundwater, threats to rivers, and mortal danger to many of the nation’s lakes. Much of the blame for this state of affairs lies with uncontrolled growth in the nation’s South and Southwest. Desert cities such as Las Vegas use fountains as decorations. Phoenix households draw down the finite resources of ever-shrinking Lake Mead. In great detail, Glennon documents present and future water crises in Georgia, California, and even seemingly water-rich Michigan, noting that states generally end up competing with one another over water allocation and that international conflict follows in short order. Desalination offers little immediate hope because of economic and ecological barriers. Glennon submits a list of possible reforms to decrease water consumption. Some, such as waterless toilets, are technological innovations. Others, such as restructuring sewer systems, require governmental intervention

Snow? Ice? Frozen Water Pipes?

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Snow? Ice? Frozen Water Pipes?

Cold, freezing weather is on its way -- and each time Portland endures this type of weather, some water pipes freeze up. You can avoid a frozen pipe crisis and all of the misery that comes with it – being without water while on a plumber’s long waiting list and thousands of dollars of damage to your walls, floors and furniture – by taking a few simple measures to protect your home.


Here are the basics on preventing freezing pipes:

Outside plumbing

Caulk around pipes where they enter the house. Close all foundation vents. (Open foundation vents are probably the greatest cause of frozen or split water lines.) Cut wood or styrofoam blocks to fit vent openings, then slide them into the vents. (Styrofoam is available at hardware stores or from insulation suppliers.) Open the vents again in the spring to prevent dry rot.

Protect outside pipes and faucets. In some homes, the outside faucet has a separate shut-off in the basement. If you have a separate valve for outside faucets, shut if off. Then go outside and turn on all the faucets to drain water in the lines. Leave the outside faucets on while you go back and check your outside shut-off valve for a small brass plug or cap on the valve. Turn this plug far enough that water drains from the valve. Then, tighten the plug back and turn off all the outside faucets.

Wrap outside faucets or hose bibs. Do this if you don't have a separate valve to turn off outside faucets. (Also remember to disconnect garden hoses.) Use newspaper or rags covered with plastic, fiberglass or molded foam insulating covers to wrap the faucet. (Molded foam insulating covers are available at plumbing and hardware stores.)

Drain in-ground sprinkler systems. Check manufacturer's instructions for the best way to do this.

Indoor plumbing

Insulate pipes in unheated areas such as the crawl space, attic, garage or basement. Use insulating tape or molded pipe sleeve and wrap it over the entire length of exposed pipe. Cover all valves, pipe-fittings, etc. with insulating tape or fiberglass. (Check your hardware store for supplies.)

Shut off and drain your water system if you are leaving home for several days. (Turn off the water heater before draining the system.) Leaving your furnace on a low setting while you're gone helps, but may not prevent freezing. Turn off the main shut-off valve, then go through the house and turn on all faucets, sinks, tubs, showers, etc., and flush the toilets. Go back to the valve and remove the plug so that it can drain completely. Follow-up by re-tightening the valve and turning off the open faucets.

Open cupboard doors in the kitchen and bathrooms. Water lines supplying the kitchen or bathrooms are frequently located in outside walls. Any air leaks in siding or insulation can cause these pipes to freeze. Leaving the cupboard doors open when the temperature is below freezing allows pipes behind the cupboards to get more heat.

Let the water run if the temperature dips below freezing. (A stream slightly smaller than a pencil width should be sufficient.) Faucets farthest from the street should be the ones left running. Using cold water will save on your gas or electric bill.


-Sarah Bott

Water Bureau Continues Cryptosporidium Sampling Program

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Water Bureau Continues Cryptosporidium Sampling Program


The Water Bureau completed its year-long study on the occurrence of Cryptosporidium in the Bull Run Watershed last December. The purpose of that study was to collect data which could be used to support an application for a variance to the treatment requirements of the LT2 Rule. Obtaining a variance would allow PWB to continue operating the Bull Run without building additional treatment.

The study period concluded with no detections ofCryptosporidium in any of the 600 plus samples of raw water that were tested. Based largely on these results, PWB intends to submit a variance request to the State of Oregon Drinking Water Program and the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in mid-2011 and expects an answer by the end of 2011.

PWB has decided that it is necessary to continue to monitor forCryptosporidium in the Bull Run until the State and EPA issue a response to the variance request. The bureau has put together an interim sampling plan based largely on input from the EPA on the minimum water sampling requirements that would be necessary should the bureau receive a treatment variance. During this interim period, the bureau will continue to collect and analyze raw water samples from the Bull Run intake and key upstream locations.

The "Interim Sampling Plan for Monitoring Cryptosporidium in the Bull Run Watershed," which outlines the various components of the interim plan can be found online here:


-Yone Akagi