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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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It truly was a very wet year

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9th wettest year on record in the Bull Run watershed.

Graph of annual precipitation at Headworks 1899-2012The Bull Run watershed -- Portland’s primary source of drinking water -- had a lot of rainfall in 2012, far more than in most years.

The precipitation in 2012 was 100.73 inches of rainfall at the Headworks Treatment Facility, where records have been kept since 1899. It was the 9th wettest calendar year on record, which puts the year in the 90th percentile.

To put the rainfall in perspective, the last time there was over 100 inches in a calendar year was in 1996  -- during the big February flood -- when the level reached 112.14 inches. Before that, it was in 1953 with 102.06 inches. As seen on the graph, most of the years with over 100 inches of rain recorded at the Water Bureau’s Headworks facility were between 1933 and 1953.

Precipitation is also measured at three SNOTEL* sites in the watershed: at the South Fork of the Bull Run River, the North Fork of the Bull Run River, and at Blazed Alder Creek. These precipitation records do not date back as far, but 2012 was a very wet year:

  • 146.5 inches at South Fork (2690’ elevation)
  • 195.8 inches at North Fork (3060’ elevation)
  • 145.8 inches at Blazed Alder (3650’ elevation)

When compared with the 1996 precipitation, there were 196.0 inches at North Fork and 179.0 inches at Blazed Alder (South Forth was not yet established in 1996).

So, all the rain in 2012 was not just in your imagination.

Doug Bloem

* SNOw TELemetry. Stations operated by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Snow Survey. Each station measures air temperature, precipitation, snow depth and snow water equivalent (SWE, pronounced “swee”), which is based on the weight of the snowpack and reflects the depth that the snow would be if it all melted in place. The station takes hourly readings and uploads them via radio to the Snow Survey’s data facility from where it’s put out on the web.


What's New in the Irrigation World?

By Lindsay Wochnick 0 Comments | Add a Comment

Summer might feel very, very far away,

but now is a great time to learn what is new in the irrigation world.


Please join the Regional Water Providers Consortium for a FREE workshop for landscape professionals, commercial property managers and irrigation professionals.

Waterwise Irrigation Trends & Technologies
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
8:30 - 11:30 a.m.
The Portland Building 1120 SW 5th Ave., Portland  2nd Floor, Room B


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

Participants can earn 3 CEHs.  Information and a link to register is available at

Participants can also register via email at or call (503) 823-4074. 

Sarah Murphy Santner
Water Efficiency Coordinator

Water For People Gala Set for February 9th

By Lindsay Wochnick 0 Comments | Add a Comment

Water For People logoThe Northwest Oregon Sub-section of Water For People invites you to support its 7th Annual Gala Celebration at 6:00 pm on Saturday, February 9, 2013 at the Scottish Rite Center, located at 1512 SW Morrison, Portland, Oregon. 

People who live without a dependable source of safe drinking water face some tough odds. Every day, more than 6,000 people die from water-related illnesses - nearly 2 million each year - and most of them are young children. Most of these people live in poor and developing countries that lack adequate sanitation facilities. This health crisis can be solved – but it takes champions.

Event detailsWater For People, a non-profit organization, is a champion for people in developing countries – helping them help themselves by implementing simple, affordable water and sanitation solutions to meet the needs of their community.

The Gala Celebration features a hosted cocktail hour, international buffet, music, art show and keynote speaker Ned Breslin, CEO of Water for People.  Proceeds from this event go directly to Water For People, so your contribution will have a significant impact on the lives of impoverished people worldwide.

To learn more or to purchase tickets for $50.00 each, please contact Carla Ralston at (503) 577-1220.

Lindsay Wochnick
Community Information and Involvement

Cold, Freezing Weather Is Here! Time to Weatherize

By Lindsay Wochnick 1 Comment | Add a Comment

Benson Bubblers

The Portland Water Bureau will begin turning off the majority of the city's Benson Bubbler drinking fountains this week due to forecasted freezing temperatures and high wind conditions, which could cause safety hazards on sidewalks for pedestrians. Once temperatures warm up, the Bubblers will be turned back on. 

The Water Bureau reminds the public that freezing temperatures can challenge Portland's aging water system and household water pipes. Now is the time to identify where the water shut-off valve is located in your house. Most residential properties have a shut-off valve located near the hot water heater in the basement or garage.

Water is much more likely to freeze in household plumbing than at the water meter. If water is running from any faucet, the meter is not frozen. Learn more about why pipes freeze and what you can do to help prevent your plumbing from freezing.

Lindsay Wochnick
Community Information and Involvement

TRAFFIC ADVISORY 01/15/13: Water Main Break at NE 22nd Avenue & NE Highland Street

By Robin Hagedorn 5 Comments | Add a Comment

January 16, 2013

Portland Water Bureau crews completed the repairs to the cracked 8-inch pipe around 4:00 pm yesterday, January 15, 2013.  The Bureau of Maintenance were then called in to make repairs to the damaged pavement. The intersection is open to traffic. 

In the winter months, the Portland Water Bureau’s crew responds to a larger number of main breaks. On New Year’s Day alone, there were four such incidents. Not all main breaks make the news. Many breaks are with small diameter pipes, with water leaking through breaks in the pavement. These repairs still take time.

Fortunately, your Portland Water Bureau Maintenance & Construction crews are ready for any water system emergency.  

January 15, 2013
1:15 PM

Pipe repairs are still underway. Work may take up to eight hours to complete. Only one property as of now is out of water service.


Water main break at NE 22nd Ave & NE Highland St
Photo courtesy of Terry Black, Portland Water Bureau Public Information

Crews from the Portland Water Bureau are responding to a water main break at the intersection of NE 22nd Avenue and NE Highland Street. Work to repair the 8-inch diameter pipe will quickly get underway once water is shutdown to the pipeline.

The crews will be able to redirect water flows to keep much of the area with water service, but some properties on NE Rosa Parks Way, NE Holman, NE Highland and NE Liberty streets may be temporarily out of water or have lower water pressure while the repair work is underway.

The Portland Water Bureau has received calls from its customers in this area reporting dirty water as a result of the main break. At this time, there is no timetable for the repair to be completed, but normally about six to eight hours. The cause of the break is unknown at this time.

Motorists and bicyclists are encouraged to find alternate routes to avoid traffic delays.

For more information, contact Tim Hall, Public Information, at (503) 823-8064 or (503) 381-0056.