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Portland Water Bureau

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Water Bureau Construction to Impact Traffic at Harrison and Naito

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Intersection at SW Naito Parkway at SW Harrison Street Impacted by Portland Water Bureau Boring Construction


Portland, OR -- Starting Wednesday, July 6, 2011, a contractor for the Portland Water Bureau will start to construct a large shaft to bore a 48-inch diameter steel casing and pipe under SW Harrison Street at SW Naito Parkway. The work requires that two traffic lanes on SW Naito Parkway -- one north and one southbound -- at the SW Harrison Street intersection be closed with the traffic signal light turned off.


The intersection will continually have flaggers directing all traffic movement around the clock -- 24 hours -- until the work is completed, which is estimated to last until Friday, July 29, 2011.

Motorists and bicyclists are encouraged to find alternate routes to avoid this work zone. Both SW Harrison Street and SW Naito Parkway will have major traffic delays due to the need to flag traffic -- vehicular, pedestrians, bicyclists, and Portland Street Car -- through the intersection. All traffic is reminded to obey the flaggers' instructions for both their and workers' safety.

This work is part of the second phase of the Portland Water Bureau's Westside Header Project that will install 5,000-feet of large diameter steel water mains to replace an existing critical but aging supply pipeline.

For more information, contact Tim Hall, Public Outreach, at 503-823-6926, 503-381-0056. 

Three Faces of Salmon Springs

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Rotating Displays Delight and Refresh

Did you know that the Salmon Springs Fountain displays three different displays? Look out for them next time you're on the waterfront!



"Wedding Cake"

US Cities Cover Open Drinking Water Reservoirs

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US Cities Cover Open Drinking Water Reservoirs

TIM FOUGHT, Associated Press

Updated 12:14 p.m., Thursday, July 7, 2011


PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Josh Seater could have done some serious harm when he stepped up to the wrought-iron fence around a Portland reservoir last month if he were holding something more ominous than a full bladder.

The open-air reservoir contains treated water that goes directly to people's spigots, and Seater's decision to urinate there after a night of drinking led Portland officials to drain the entire basin to keep from rattling the public's nerves about the purity of the drinking supply.

The saga delighted headline and joke writers, but it reveals a threat to urban water supplies in about a dozen cities.

Portland has five of up to 30 uncovered reservoirs around the country that contain treated water, some accessible to the public. The fear is that a terrorist could drop or somehow get a toxic chemical agent into a reservoir and sicken people.

"You can use your imagination. If somebody wanted to do something malicious, they could," said Richard Luthy, a Stanford University professor of civil and environmental engineering on a trip to a California reservoir.

Luthy and others told congressional panels after Sept. 11 about the vulnerability of infrastructure including water systems. Federal authorities ordered security evaluations, and water systems around the country have added fences, surveillance cameras, officer patrols or other measures.

Opinions about the extent of the risk that remains are divided.

In a 2004 paper for a NATO-Russia workshop on protecting urban infrastructure, University of Maryland Professor Gregory Baecher cited "a catalog of several dozen potential toxins, bacteria, viruses, protozoa and toxic industrial chemicals that have been identified as possible water contaminants that could be used by terrorists."

But Baecher said in a recent interview that dilution is one protection against harm from that sort of attack, and the nation's many open buildings are softer targets than water supply reservoirs. "If I were a terrorist, this is just not one of the easiest things to do," he said.

The dilution factor is what prompted some people to say that Portland overreacted in draining the reservoir. A pint of urine is a tiny drop in the bucket in a reservoir of 7.5 million gallons where ducks defecate as well.

It turns out that the federal government has been cracking down on reservoirs such as Portland's for reasons that have less to do with speculative threats from al-Qaida than with the known risk of serious health threats — the biggest one being cryptosporidium, a parasite from the feces of infected animals or humans. In 1993 it got into Milwaukee's water, led to the deaths of as many as 100 people and sickened hundreds of thousands more.

Rules the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rolled out in 2006 are putting an end to the sort of reservoir Seater used — an open-air basin that holds treated or "finished" water to be distributed directly to consumers. The cryptosporidium parasite was a big motivating factor for the changes.

Many of these reservoirs date to horse-and-buggy days and were once celebrated in American cities.

They often exploited gravity to get water cheaply to growing populations. They provided a ready supply for firefighting. They were installed with architectural flourishes and lights and given central places in parks with surrounding pathways. That sentiment is strong in Portland, where neighbors who enjoy the scenery of the reservoirs call them a gem of the city and have been fighting for years to keep them open.

An estimate cited in a paper for the American Water Works Association says there were about 750 open, treated reservoirs in the 1970s. Recently, the Portland water bureau compiled a list of about 30, including some in such cities as New York and Los Angeles, Baltimore, Seattle and Tacoma.

Plans are well along in most cities to comply with the EPA's rules, although it will take years to finish in some. In Los Angeles, for example, the estimate is 2022. In New York, city officials have asked the Obama administration for a waiver to allow the billion-gallon Hillview Reservoir to remain uncovered — or at least to delay the compliance deadline for the $1.6 billion project.

In 2007, New York City joined Portland in taking the EPA rules over cryptosporidium to federal court, but a federal appeals court slapped down their arguments as "either meritless, irrelevant, or both." As recently as June, Oregon state authorities told the city of Portland there's no such thing as a waiver to the rules.

The city is building two underground reservoirs expected in a few years to replace the Mount Tabor reservoirs.

As for Seater, prosecutors say they have not made a decision about charging him. And the city has finished draining the reservoir and scrubbing the walls.

Flushing the urine was a smart decision in the view of Stanford professor Luthy, who regards confidence in public water supply as an important social good. Mistrust could lead to social divisions along lines of those who can afford bottled water and those who can't, he said.

"We should expect that the water supplied to us is safe and wholesome and reliable."

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Installing New Water Vault

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New Components for the Water System

Two Water Bureau employees from the Maintenance & Construction division install a six inch regulator in a new water vault. The regulator controls water pressure between two pressure zones. Without a regulator, water coming from a higher elevation to a lower elevation would come out with higher pressure that could cause damage to the system.

When completed, the vault will be a confined space, and workers will have to use special precautions to enter it for routine maintenance and repairs.

Water System Improvement


Getting around a BIG hole on SW Naito Parkway


The Portland Water Bureau’s construction work near the intersection of SW Naito Parkway at SW Harrison Street requires a huge boring pit, more than 16 feet wide and 40 feet long, to insert a protective pipe casing under the Portland Street Car tracks. The two northbound traffic lanes on SW Naito Parkway are closed and fenced around the clock as the pit is too large to place a steel plate over.  With the two northbound lanes closed, traffic is being channeled – with the help of flaggers stationed 24 hours – into one of the southbound lanes to get around the work zone.   

Work Crew on SW Naito 

This work has caused some commuters to have to wait from five or longer to get through the intersection, depending on the time of day. As some motorists have blocked the intersection of SW Market and SW Clay streets, this has caused delays in other directions. The Water Bureau has engaged more traffic flaggers to help keep these intersections clear to move traffic along more quickly and to assist motorists leaving a nearby parking garage.


The Portland Bureau of Transportation is also testing not allowing left turns in both directions on SW Naito Parkway at SW Harrison Street to see if this will improve traffic flows.


The boring work is part of the second phase of the Portland Water Bureau's Westside Header Project that will install 5,000-feet of large diameter steel water mains to replace an existing critical but aging supply pipeline. The actual new pipe installation work is slated to start in September and be completed by January 2012.


The Portland Water Bureau again encourages commuters and bicyclists to find alternate routes, if possible, to avoid delays to their destinations. The public’s patience and cooperation is appreciated.


Tim Hall, Public Outreach