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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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Hydration Stations at Portland State help students "Take Back the Tap"

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PSU is educating students about sustainable drinking water.College students at PSU now learn more than just anthropology and trigonometry; they’re also
learning how to “ditch bottled water.”

Water coolers dubbed as “Hydration Stations” have been set up across campus to make it easy for students to refill reusable water canisters. 11 stations have been built and 10 more will soon be constructed, thanks to a grant through the Institute for Sustainable Solutions. So far, just one station has prevented 38,000 plastic water bottles from being produced and soon landfilled. There’s even an easy “refill map” to find your nearest tap.

Portland State’s student campaign is part of a national Take Back the Tap initiative led by Food and Water Watch.  Jacob Sherman, a Take Back the Tap student leader, says“When people realize drinking tap water is cheaper, healthier, and more sustainable, they stop buying bottled water anyway.”

Portland State students from the Environmental Club have put together an informative video that really gets at some of the core issues behind why some people prefer bottled water over tap water. Club leader, Andy Eiden says “It’s a psychological thing. They’ve done a good job of getting our psyches attached to the idea that bottled water is a good product, it tastes good, because you see people on TV enjoying this and you identify. That’s one of our bigger barriers.”

As news since this video was produced, the school president has set up a Sustainable Drinking Water Task Force and PSU’s student government has restricted the use of student fees to purchase bottled water.

Plus, if you’ll notice, there’s an oldie-but-goody “I only drink TAP WATER” decal on her stainless steel bottle.

Do you consume 160 plastic water bottles per year?

Or do you share your love of tap water with friends and family?

Darcy Cronin

Senior Community Outreach and Information Representative

Pipe from 1883 Unearthed - "It's a good place to be a pipe!"

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Pipe from 1883 was unearthed in good working condition.Chief Engineer Stuhr has a saying about Portland’s water system, “It’s a good place to be a pipe!”  He’s referring to how old our pipe can get and still be in perfect operating condition.

Just this past week crews removed a cast iron pipe with a manufacturer’s stamp from 1883. The pipe was only removed because Trimet’s MAX light rail tracks will soon be laid down over the top. With a pipe this old, we couldn’t risk an expensive main break after public transit infrastructure is placed above it.

Engineer Jeremiah Hess was sure impressed: “I have to say, the pipe is in AMAZING condition for nearing 130 years old. I saw no sign of internal or external cracking, corrosion or pitting, just some barnacles on the inside bottom, but that’s not surprising.  Its wall thickness is at least ¾ of an inch, hasn’t degraded, and I wouldn’t doubt if it lasted another 100 yrs. The new DI pipe, including its concrete lining, wasn’t as thick as the old pipe’s wall thickness.  They really don’t make it like that anymore – unless you want to pay big $$$.

(Note: In case you haven’t heard of “pipe barnacles” before, Jeremiah is referring to the common occurrence of mineral deposits that accumulate inside pipes over time. Uni-directional flushing is how our crews clean these out periodically. Also, DI refers to ductile iron pipe.)

Cast iron pipe from 1883 used in Portland's water system.

Jeff Leighton, manager of our Asset Management team, helped track down more information about the pipe’s manufacturer. New Jersey-based Florence Foundry (FF) and RD Wood & Company (R.D.W.&Co) had a strong reputation for reliable cast iron pipes. A brief history of the company claims that the infrastructure of Paris, France consists mostly of these same cast iron pipes from New Jersey.

Jeff reached out to an associate from American Water, David Hughes, who found some really intriguing information from the company’s historical archive:

R.D. Wood & Co. employee time books, 1873-1884. These two volumes are a daily record of the amount of hours worked by a group of
about twelve employees for R.D. Wood & Co. The average number of hours worked per day was approximately 10.25 and the workweek consisted of six days. Overtime was also recorded.


Apparently, the crews building these pipes worked long days. Then the pipe was shipped out to Portland, and it worked for approximately 46,720 days around the clock to deliver constant water. In the mean time, generations of Portlanders have relied on this pipe and water bureau crews for clean drinking water.


Darcy Cronin

Sr. Community Outreach and Information Representative

Pipe was still operating after nearly 128 years in service.

Testing of Emergency Alert System Scheduled Today - This is only a test!

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Nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System November 9th, 11 a.m. PST

Don’t be alarmed when you hear a test of the National Emergency Alert System today at 11 a.m. (November 9th). Our friends over at Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM) are working to spread the word about this test, which will be conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). While we have periodic local emergency alert tests, this is actually the first time the national system has ever been tested coast to coast. Thankfully, it is only a test!

Portland Water Bureau staff takes the responsibility of emergency preparedness seriously, as access to clean drinking water and high pressured water for fire-fighting are essential to community safety.

Here is a quick video by FEMA to inform everyone about the test:


Also, we encourage you to use this reminder as an opportunity to make sure your family is prepared for an emergency. Visit to learn easy steps for ensuring your family will have what you need in an emergency.

My family prepared an emergency kit about two years ago (at the nudging of my employer!), and I’m so glad we did. FEMA has tips for storing your own emergency water supply. We bought an 8-gallon water jug on wheels (BPA free), which we use for camping too. We also followed the advice of putting everything else in a rolling trashcan. It doesn’t take up much space and if need be, we could transport it. This winter I need to take to check expiration dates and swap out stuff…preparedness is a process.

Do you have an emergency kit?

Darcy Cronin

Sr. Community Outreach and Information Representative

Blue Revolution @ OMSI Science Pub

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Blue Revolution book coverIf you’re up for something more educationally engaging than simply hanging out at your local pub, OMSI’s Science Pub may be your thing. An upcoming visit from Cynthia Barnett, author of the new book Blue Revolution: Unmaking America’s Water Crisis, caught our attention.

Tuesday, November 15th at 7:00 pm

McMenamin’s Mission Theater and Pub, 1624 NW Glisan

Coming fromFlorida, Barnett’s perspective may not be quite applicable to the circumstances related to water here in the wet northwest, though her research at the national scale likely brings us a new view on “America’s water crisis.” Reading several online reviews, Barnett’s book brings global examples of countries likeAustraliadealing with chronic draught and draws lessons from these places.

An LA Times blogger reviewed Barnett’s book from the gardener’s perspective, and shared how outdoor water conservation is critical place for improvement, especially in California: “Most of all, we realize that we have choices and making ethical ones can begin a revolution.” Barnett basically urges that water consciousness, not just conservation, needs to be the next wave of being green. 

Judi Ranton

Water Efficiency Program Manager

Headworks Diversion Pool Repair

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Recently, the east bank of the diversion pool washed out, and we needed to re-armor that side to ensure the use of the diversion pool to send water to town. The crew was able place large boulders to hold the bank in place, and then back-fill the washed out area with rock. They are very good at adapting to challenging circumstances, i.e. working in a tight space next to a very important and sensitive part of our infrastructure. The Headworks Diversion Pool repair is now complete and the beaver fence is back in place.  

A big thanks to Fred Willey, Marty Fairbrother, Keith Wiebold, Craig Mcmillen, and Chad Hall for their work on the project!

Tim Grandle

Sandy River Station Supervisor 

Headworks diversion pool after repair.