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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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Water System Maintenance

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Water Crews on the Scene in North Portland

Pictured: Andrew Wendelschafer and Lowell Teasle excavating a service on N. Juneau Street.


The water distribution system is the essential link between the water supply source and you. It is not just the main that runs down your street, quite the contrary. It is an elaborate conveyance system that allows water to be moved through miles of piping before reaching your tap. Pumps allow water to move through the system; valves allow water pressure and flow direction to be regulated along the way.


Our crews are responsible for the maintenance of water mains, water services, fire hydrants, water valves and backflow devices located within the City's service area. In short, they ensure that good, clean water is delivered to your tap.


When you see them working on your street, feel free to say hello and take a peek at what they are doing!



-Sarah Bott

Measuring Rainfall in the Bull Run Watershed

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What's the average rainfall in up in the Bull Run watershed in February? We asked Doug Bloem, who tracks this and a lot of other information up in the watershed. Here's what he had to say:

It depends on where in Bull Run you measure the precipitation.

At Headworks (750' elevation) we have records going back to 1899.  Average February precipitation for 1899-2011 is 8.4".  In February 2011, we had 8.8", about 30% (2.6") of which fell on the last day of the month (yesterday).

At the South Fork SNOTEL* site (2690' elevation), average February precipitation is 11.4" for the period 1998 - 2010.  I can't give you a total for February 2011 because they've had some electronic glitches the last few days, so we don’t have a full month's total.  They measured 14.3" total through the 25th, but the other two SNOTEL sites had over 4" the last three days of February, so the South Fork total for February is probably something like 18"-19".

At the North Fork SNOTEL (3060' elevation), average February precipitation is 15.3" for the period 1980 - 2011.  We had 16.9" in February 2011. 

At the Blazed Alder SNOTEL (3650' elevation), average February precipitation is 13.4" for the period 1981 - 2011.  We had 15.0" in February 2011.

You may have noticed that North Fork has a higher average than Blazed Alder, even though Blazed Alder is higher elevation.  North Fork is typically the wettest precipitation measuring site in Bull Run because of its proximity to the Gorge, where the storms come in at essentially sea level and then are forced up to elevations well over 3000'.  By the time the clouds get to Blazed Alder, they've already had some of the moisture wrung out of them.

-Doug Bloem


SNOTEL: The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of the United States Department of Agriculture operates snow telemetry (SNOTEL) stations at three places in the Bull Run watershed to help predict how much water will be available from melting snow. Snow depths and density vary with time and location.


Blazed Alder SNOTEL site.

Open House at Willamette Park

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Open House: Public Invited to View Proposed Design for New Water Pump Station at Willamette Park

The Portland Water Bureau and Portland Parks & Recreation will hold an open house for the public to view exterior design and landscaping plans for the Water Bureau's new drinking water pump station to be built in Willamette Park in Southwest Portland. 

The event will be held on Saturday, March 19th, from 10 am to 2 pm at the Portland French School, 6318 SW Corbett Avenue, in Southwest Portland. The public is invited to drop-in anytime during these hours.

In 2009, staff from Portland Parks & Recreation and the Water Bureau sought the opinions of area neighborhood associations, businesses, park users and the public about siting options for rebuilding the city's 99-year old Fulton Pump Station, located in a residential area on SW Nevada Street, between Macadam Avenue and Virginia Avenue. Participants supported siting the new facility in nearby Willamette Park. 

In January, a Project Advisory Committee (PAC) was established to ensure the building will complement the park.  PAC members met with project architects and City staff to discuss the exterior of the facility and choose design elements. The building will also house a new larger public restroom and park equipment storage area.

For more information: contact Tim Hall, Water Bureau Public Outreach, at 503-823-6926 or

-Tim Hall

Water Quality

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Brownish Water?

When the water from your faucet is brown this indicates a disturbance in the water main. Since Portland is an unfiltered water system, there is a fine layer of sediment on the bottom of the water mains that can be stirred up.  Hydraulic disturbances caused by hydrant use, valve turning, main breaks or adjacent construction can stir up these sediments and cause the water to be brown. Usually the water will clear on its own within a few hours.

If your water is brown:

  • Don't drink the water. It may not be harmful, but we don't advise drinking any obviously discolored or dirty water. It is fine to use this water to flush toilets.
  • Avoid using hot water until the pipes clear. That avoids drawing dirty water into your hot water tank.
  • After an hour or so, run the cold water for several minutes to see if it is clear. When one faucet runs clear, run the cold water through all home faucets until each is clear. This step will eliminate the dirty water that may have been drawn into your pipes.
  • If this does not go away in a few hours, you should call the Water Quality Line at (503) 823-7525.


Drinking Fountains: The "Nellie"

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The "Nellie"

This rare three-bowl bubbler is named after Nellie Robinson, the benefactor who, like Simon Benson, left her gift to the people of Portland so they might always have a sip of clean, safe drinking water.

This is the ONLY three-bowl bubbler in Portland. Can you guess where it is located?