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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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Summer Supply Planning - Yes, already!

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Bull Run reservoir in "drawdown"While summer may seem far away during this cold dreary season, our staff are already planning for the summer ahead, as well as learning from past summers.


Simply put, our winter rainfall determines our summer water supply. However, it gets very complicated when you add in factors like long term weather predictions, past and projected water demands, successful regional water conservation, native fish protection…and on and on.


To learn more about our efforts to consistently manage water supply in every season, visit our Seasonal Supply Planning webpage. Specifically, the "retrospective" provides details about the 2011 drawdown.


David Shaff


Waterwise Landscaping & Irrigation Workshops

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Waterwise irrigation classes help professionals keep up on best practice trends.Register today for a free workshop & lunch for landscape professionals, commercial property managers, and irrigation professionals.


Best Management Practices for Waterwise Landscapes

Thursday, March 8, 2012

8:30 am - 1:00 pm at the City of Portland in Room C, 2nd Floor (1120 SW 5th Ave. Portland, Oregon – Accessible by bus & MAX!)


Topics Include:   

  • Design For Today & Tomorrow
  • Preparing Productive Soil Functional Turf Areas & Alternatives
  • Proper Plant Placement Fundamentals of Waterwise Irrigation
  • Why Maintenance Is Critical
  • Water Saving Devices & Technologies

Waterwise Irrigation Trends & Technologies

March 13, 2012    Beaverton, OR    8:30 - 11:30 a.m.


Topics include:

  • Waterwise irrigation techniques & technologies
  • Putting the "smarts" back in smart technology
  • Case studies that document water savings
  • Tips for educating and managing client expectations
  • Overview of regional water sources & rates 



Registration & info at:

Register: via email or call (503) 823-4074.


Water. Save a Little. Help a Lot.

Water Service Insurance Offers: Read the Fine Print

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It seems that cyclically our Customer Service staff get a string of calls from customers concerned about letters/calls they are receiving from insurance companies offering to protect their water service line. Staff has been told that sales people introduce themselves as having a relationship with the “water department.” This is not true. The Portland Water Bureau is a public utility, and does not contract/affiliate with any insurance providers.

The most current letter Portlanders have been receiving, from Homeserve, Inc., offers customers an annual coverage of $6,000 for $59.88 per year. Yet, the reality is that even if your water line needs to be replaced, this would cost you an average of $2500. But the real area of concern is in the fine print, under the “General Exclusions.” Read it for yourself, but excluding “Acts of God” and “repair of covered parts, equipment and/or systems due to reduction in performance caused by normal wear and tear” makes us suspicious that any customers signing up for this coverage may never see any claim paid.

Fine print for Homeserve insurance coverage

While we are on the subject, let us remind our customers to beware of anyone asking for money to pay for the water system:

  • Water Bureau staff NEVER ask for money in the field, do not ever pay anyone requesting payment at your doorstep.
  • As a general rule, Water Bureau staff will never ask to come inside your home, even if invited. If you are asked to give access, we suggest you contact the Water Bureau first to confirm that the individual is an employee of the Water Bureau and why they might need access to your property.
  • Only Water Bureau personnel with City of Portland identification should communicate with residents about the scope and schedule of a construction project. Contractors doing construction work for the bureau do not have permission to contact property owners, except to ask them to move a vehicle in the way of any work the residents were notified of by the Water Bureau.
  • Most water system repairs and replacements are made by the Water Bureau's own Maintenance and Construction group. Private contractors are hired to perform work that the Water Bureau is not equipped or staffed to perform like installing hundreds of feet of pipe, or building pump stations and water storage tanks, or certain specialty jobs like the demolition of an old facility.
  • Water system repairs and improvements like new mains are paid through the Water Bureau's base and Capital Improvement Program budgets, funded through water rates.  In addition, new mains are paid for by private developers when a main is needed to serve their housing or building development.
  • Residents are only responsible to pay for any water pipe repairs from the private property-side of the water meter to their home or building, if their development triggers the requirement for new or upsized water system infrastructure, or if the work is part of a City supervised Local Improvement District project.

If you are ever suspicious of anything related to your water service, please call our Customer Service hotline: (503) 823-7770.

Kathy Koch

Customer Service Director

EPA Schedules Second LT2 Review Public Meeting



In a February 29 Federal Register notice, EPA announced an April 24 date for its second public meeting to discuss the Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule (LT2ESWTR). The all day (8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.) meeting will be held at EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C., and will focus on the uncovered finished water reservoir provisions of the LT2ESWTR.

“The primary focus of this meeting is to have a scientific and technical discussion related to uncovered finished water reservoirs. EPA will consider the data and/or information discussed at this meeting during the agency’s review of the LT2 rule, which the agency announced as part of EPA’s Retrospective Review Plan under Executive Order (E.O.) 13563 in August 2011”

“This meeting is open to the public. EPA encourages public input and will allocate time on the agenda to receive verbal statements. EPA requests that participants limit statements to the topics described in the SUMMARY section of this notice and will hold participants to a set timeframe for their statements.”

The EPA notice encourages stakeholders who wish to submit data for consideration during the meeting to due so in advance. 

Further details on the meeting, including logistical and registration information, are available in the Federal Register notice.

The Portland Water Bureau plans on having staff participate in the meeting to stay informed regarding EPA's consideration of technical information which could affect federal requirements for uncovered finished drinking water reservoirs and plans on sharing relevant monitoring data from Portland's system including data collected during a Water Research Foundation study "Detection of Infectious Cryptosporidium in Conventionally Treated Drinking Water" in 2010.

Community Partnerships Promote Groundwater Protection

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Workshop attendees/community members discussing the geography of the Columbia Slough WatershedDid you know that this is Groundwater Awareness Week? Here in Portland, community partnerships are an important strategy for protecting groundwater.


I recently attended an excellent educational event, Slough 101, organized by the Columbia Slough Watershed Council. 


The Portland Water Bureau's Columbia South Shore Well Field parallels part of the Columbia Slough. Cleaning up the slough has been a major focus of the Columbia Slough Watershed Council, a non-profit organization. The water bureau and the watershed council have a common interest in protecting groundwater (much of the slough's flow comes from groundwater), and we have a long-term cooperative relationship. We work together on several annual public events, including Slough 101, Cycling the Well field, Aquifer Adventure, and Groundwater 101.


At Slough 101, Rebecca Geisen talked about Portland's water system, the role that the groundwater system plays as a back-up drinking water system, and the Groundwater Protection Program. The Groundwater Protection Program has both educational and enforcement elements. It enforces the city ordinance that regulates use and disposal of hazardous materials in the Columbia South Shore Well Field Wellhead Protection Area. Rebecca's group also has an agreement with the Columbia Corridor Association for the latter to provide educational and outreach services to businesses in the protection area that use hazardous materials. The Groundwater Protection Program also provides funding to the Portland Fire Bureau and the City of Gresham to inspect businesses and industries in the Wellhead Protection Area. Rebecca also mentioned that the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality manages clean-up of contaminated sites, generally paid for by the responsible parties.


Corky Collier, of the Columbia Corridor Association, talked about the history of trading, commercial, and industrial use of the slough area, and how industries have been encouraged (or required) to take the many steps necessary to clean up the slough, and prevent groundwater contamination.


Two Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) representatives talked about the many things that BES does to promote surface water and groundwater quality. One of the great successes from a groundwater perspective is getting homes and businesses off of septic systems, and connected to the public sanitary sewer system.


Brian Woltersdorf of the Multnomah County Drainage District told the group how they maintained the slough, the levees protecting the watershed from flooding, and the giant pumps used to pump slough water into the Willamette or Columbia River most months of the year. Without the Drainage District, Portland's wellfield, the airport, and hundreds of businesses would be flooded almost every winter.


During the break, I remarked to my daughters, who attended with me, that all these partnerships among public agencies, businesses, and non-profits, each with different core missions and different ways of working, isn't easy - it takes months or years of cooperative work. All that work is a big part of the community effort that protects our groundwater.

Groundwater is the world’s most abundant source of fresh water, and 44% of the United States’ population relies on groundwater for drinking water. We all have a role in protecting this precious water source.

Patrick Easley, P.E.

Groundwater Program Manager