Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

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

More Contact Info

Subscribe to RSS feed

Most Recent

View More

PSU Class Studies Portland's Water System

2 Comments | Add a Comment

PSU Class Studies Portland's Water System

Portland State University has offered a class named "Portland's Water: History and Challenges" for the past several years. Led by Catherine Howells, the students study virtually every aspect of Portland's municipal water system. They tour the Bull Run watershed and our operations, construction, and maintenace facilities, and hear from guest speakers not only from the Water Bureau but from outside experts as well. You can learn more about the class here:

Here are some of the journal entries students posted after last term's class:

 PSU capstone students learn in depth about Portland's water history

"I look forward to sharing what I have learned with anyone who is willing to listen.  I now realize the importance of a good water delivery system and how important it is to educate the public.  I feel proud to live in an area with such a great water supply.  I will never look at my clean, cold, cheap and constant glass of refreshing water the same way again."
"Overall, I am walking away from the course with knowledge and experiences that I can use for my future.  I am looking to share my knowledge about the quality and source of our water in Portland with everyone that I know, and individuals who lack this information.  Furthermore, informing others about the difference of tap water versus bottled water can help in reduction of not only pollution, but also reduction of companies that are digging out this natural resource to exhaustion to make a profit."
"I learned so much about Portland’s water that I would have never been able to learn if it weren’t for this class.  At least now I won’t take our water for granted and can once in a while say something about Portland’s water when in a conversation with other people.  I really think this is a wonderful class and that every citizen and every person that lives in Portland should be interested in this topic or at least realize how important water is in our lives."
"I learned a lot from the guest speakers who came to our class....the presentations from these hard working people were very informative and really gave me an inside perspective into what it takes to provide water to the city."
 PSU Student poses for photo near fountain where workers once lived.
"I really enjoyed the partnership with the Water Bureau during the class. Our tours of the Bull Run watershed and the Interstate facility were very informative and it was awesome to get a firsthand look at these parts of our water system.  Another thing I really enjoyed was the guest speakers; every one of them was very engaging and informative.  I really appreciated their participation and willingness to share their knowledge with the class."
"This class has been a unique experience that has been different from the majority of classes I have taken at Portland State.  The thing that made this class special was the personal interaction we got to have with the places we were learning about as well as the public servants at the Water Bureau who work on a daily basis to resolve problems in order to ensure Portlander’s possess the best quality drinking water possible.... the visit to the Interstate facility really made me realize how big and important the Water Bureau’s operation is."
"The entire experience in this class has been a real positive one for me and I have really enjoyed the various trips we took to the Bull Run and the Interstate facility.  Our group projects were also something I really had fun doing and am very proud of what we were able to do.  It was nice that my group members were all on the same page and we all worked hard to finish the project well ahead or our deadline. If it were up to me, I would keep the class just the way it is for future terms. This class has been one of the best classes I’ve taken since attending Portland State."
 PSU capstone students learn about their community.
"I really enjoyed gaining a deeper understanding about Portland's water system from this class.... I think the tour [of the Bull Run watershed] had a major influence on the way all of us think about Portland's water system and the other systems we studied.  Similarly, the tour of the Interstate facility was very valuable to gain an understanding of how our system is managed once the water leaves the Bull Run, especially during the recent turbidity event.  The numerous presentations from Water Bureau staff were all excellent, and I especially enjoyed the presentation that had to do with climate change modeling, as the use of modeling in science is of particular interest to me, and disaster planning."
"I think the take home message I learned from this class that will stick with me is how insanely difficult it is to manage a public utility.  It’s amazing that we get water at all, but somehow we do.... It seems to me that everyone should have this same understanding of what it takes to successfully run and manage a public utility."
"The course gave the opportunity to gain inside knowledge from a wide-ranging group of colorful, knowledgeable, and dedicated people at the Portland Water Bureau.  The chance to learn from and form relationships with such professionals is an experience that I will not soon forget.  It was a pleasure and an honor to gain and apply skills with fellow students that helped develop community outreach products for the Portland Water Bureau.  The hands-on experience and community involvement was priceless."

-Sarah Bott

People Behind the Water: Jeff Sandberg

1 Comment | Add a Comment

Meet Jeff Sandberg!


Water bureau employee Jeff Sandberg


Jeff Sandberg is the Water Conservation Programs Coordinator for the Portland Water Bureau. He provides technical assistance to business, industrial and institutional customers seeking to reduce their water consumption. Says Jeff, "There is no replacement for water. Using it effectively and efficiently is essential. No society can flourish without a reliable source of clean water. Our economy, industry, health and indeed our very lives depend on water."


Getting Into Graywater

0 Comments | Add a Comment

Join the Portland Water Bureau and Sloan Valve Company at

12:30 PM on Saturday April 23rd at the Portland Water House at 1616 NE 140th Portland Oregon for a class to learn about graywater rules in Oregon and the innovative AQUS system.  The AQUS system captures water from sinks and reuses it for toilet flushing.  This is one of the graywater systems that are approved for installation in Oregon.    

Until recently the use of graywater was not allowed in the

State of Oregon.  In the summer of 2009 the State gave the

green light for the use of graywater for toilet flushing.  In January of this year the State published its draft rules to allow the use of graywater for irrigation purposes. 

The class will be held at the newly constructed Portland Water House - a demonstration home full of innovative, local, green building products - including the AQUS graywater system.

Light snacks and coupons for the AQUS system will be provided. 

RSVP required. 

Contact Sarah Santner, Portland Water Bureau 503-823-7444 or

Protecting Public Health

2 Comments | Add a Comment

This week, April 4-10th, is National Public Health Week, and in the spirit of the "Safety is No Accident" theme, it's important to remember that the safe water we drink every day is no accident, either.

The first obligation of water suppliers is to provide water that is safe for consumption. In a world where an estimated 3 million people die every year from preventable waterborne disease, water systems in North America allow us to drink from virtually any public tap with a high assurance of safety. In fact:

  • A safe water supply is critical to protecting the public health - the first obligation of all water suppliers. Without our modern water systems, diseases such as cholera and dysentery would be part of everyday life.
  • In the United States, water utilities monitor for more than 100 contaminants and must meet close to 90 regulations for water safety and quality. Those water standards are among the world's most stringent.
  • Community water supplies are tested every day. Tap water undergoes far more frequent testing than bottled water.

During National Public Health Week let's all take a moment to be thankful for clean, safe water and the professionals who work to bring it into our homes and businesses everyday. If you'd like to learn more about National Public Health Week and the American Public Health Association (APHA) please visit Let's all work together to create a safer and healthier nation.

Inside a Benson Bubbler

1 Comment | Add a Comment

Inside a Benson Bubbler

The iconic four-bowl drinking fountains, located throughout Portland, are known as the Benson Bubblers.  Many know that these drinking fountains help keep the city hydrated, yet few know how these amazing fountains are put together.

The bubbler exteriors are made of four main parts including the base (acts as the stand), the cap (which encloses the base), the arms (which come out of the base in order to create four areas for the bowls), and the bowls (where the water comes out).

As simple as that sounds there are many parts within the bubbler that allows it to run the way that it does.  Valves, controllers, pipes, and tubes are only some of the pieces needed to provide the bubblers with running water.  An irrigation valve is used to connect the water meter to a tube that runs up the bubbler.The tube is protected by a pipe and is drawn up to a square chamber with four openings known as a manifold, which sends the water into four different directions. 

Almost all of the Benson Bubblers are set on a timer and run from 6 A.M. to 11 P.M.  There are a very limited number that are left on continuously, and those that do run all hours are typically placed in areas where the water can help benefit the less fortunate (areas with a high homeless population, for example).  For those bubblers that are on a controlled time system, a transmitter is hooked up to the meter in order to set the hours during which the bubbler will run.  Once the timer is set the transmitters are removed and used to control the remaining bubblers.

- Abby Wynne