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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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Turtle Rescue at the Sandy River Delta

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Laura Guderyahn and John Deshler remove a Western Painted Turtle from a trap.
Laura Guderyahn and John Deshler remove a Western Painted Turtle from a trap.

In 2013, the Portland Water Bureau cooperated with the Army Corps of Engineers to remove the 1930’s Sandy River Delta dam and restore the historic river channel. By participating in the project, the Environmental Compliance group, within the Water Bureau's Resource Protection and Planning, fulfilled two of the measures Bull Run Water Supply Habitat Conservation Plan. The plan restores habitat for threatened and endangered fish in the Sandy River basin, and allows the Water Bureau to operate the water supply system and comply with the federal Endangered Species and Clean Water acts.

Many people know this area as a great place to walk their dog, but it is also home to a diversity of native animals, including threatened and endangered salmon and native turtles.  During dredging operations, the Water Bureau organized and led the capture and relocation of dozens of native Western Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta bellii) and Northern Red-legged Frogs (Rana aurora), both of which are on the Oregon Sensitive Species List.

Painted Turtles (C.p.) get their name from the brightly colored underside and rim of their shells.  The western subspecies of this turtle has an especially beautiful underside that is uniquely patterned for each individual, much like a human fingerprint.  Western Painted Turtles were the only turtles inhabiting the historic channel where dredging and dam removal occurred.  Regional turtle experts Laura Guderyahn (City of Gresham), Susan Barnes (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife), Sarah Wilson (Port of Portland), and the bureau’s own wildlife biologist, John Deshler, were successful in trapping dozens of native Western Painted Turtles and moving them out of harm’s way to nearby Company Lake, a Port of Portland restoration site.

John Deshler
Resource Planning and Protection

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Portland Water Bureau & Regional Water Provider’s Consortium Partner to Bring You Holiday Water Conservation Tips

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The holiday season can be a blur of activities from holiday parties to having friends and family come to visit. It can also mean an increase in household water use. Here are three ways to help you prepare your home for the festivities while also ensuring efficient water use this holiday season:  

  1. Deck more than the halls by making sure your kitchen and bathroom faucets are decked out with water-efficient aerators. Replacing older aerators (the screw-on tip of a faucet) with new water-efficient ones can be one of the most cost-effective water conservation measures your household can do.
  2. Your toilet may be quiet as a mouse, but are you sure it isn't leaking? Leaky toilets often make themselves known because there is a sound of running water or a faint hissing or trickling. But many times, water flows through the tank silently, which is why these leaks are often overlooked. Here's how to check your toilet for leaks before it gets its holiday workout.
  3. Replacing your old shower head with a new high efficiency one will save you water. In fact, the average household could save 2,900 gallons per year by installing WaterSense showerheads.  

Get free water-saving tools like aerators, showerheads, and toilet leak detection tablets from the Portland Water Bureau Efficiency Program. Or visit for more water saving tips to get you through the holidays.

Portland Water Bureau Water Efficiency Program & Regional Water Provider’s Consortium

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Water Pipe Insurance Policies not Affiliated with the Portland Water Bureau

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Private home insurance companies like HomeServe USA and American Water Resources of Oregon are doing sales mailings offering water service line insurance in Portland.  The Portland Water Bureau wants to remind our customers that such offers are not associated with the City of Portland, nor does the Portland Water Bureau have any connection with such companies, or any other such insurance carrier.

These private companies send letters to Portland residents offering a repair plan for the water service line extending from the resident’s house to the water distribution pipeline, which usually runs from the water meter in front of the house. 

These letters state that the line extending from the house to the water meter is the homeowner’s responsibility.This means that if the pipeline experiences a crack or break, the resident is responsible for all associated costs.

While this is in fact true, some sales literature from such insurance companies has confused some residents, making them feel that they are required to have an insurance policy that is separate from their homeowner’s policy to cover any water utility line damage. This is not true.

Here are the facts that you need to know:

  • There are no laws that require you to insure the water line.
  • It is completely up to you to decide whether you want or need this type of coverage, and through which company you want to buy such a policy.
  • If you receive a phone call from a sales person employed by a private company and they introduce themselves as having a relationship with the “water department,” this is false information. The Portland Water Bureau is a public utility, and does not contract/affiliate with any insurance providers.

Before signing an annual insurance plan that protects your water service line, the Portland Water Bureau urges caution. Some plans may be legitimate offers, but make sure to examine the fine print. For example, letters received by customers in 2012 noted, in small print, that the private companies’ insurance plan will not pay for residential plumbing services if the water line due to “acts of God,” frozen pipes, faulty construction or maintenance, or “normal wear and tear.” 

If you are interested in water service line insurance, the Portland Water Bureau encourages you to consider the following information:

  • Review your homeowner's policy and determine if water line coverage is already provided. If you do have water line coverage, make sure to contact your insurance company and ask how this coverage would work in conjunction with an annual insurance plan.
  • Determine if you have prior issues with your water line pipes or if there have been any issues in your neighborhood. This will help you in deciding the necessity of purchasing an annual insurance plan.
  • Compare several private insurance policies to make sure you find the policy the best suits your needs.
  • Read the fine print in the annual insurance plan carefully.
  • Check the company standing with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Business Review and see their rating and any past government actions or advertising concerns BBB has found.

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

Tim Hall
Public Information 

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Fake Quake: Portland Water Bureau Prepares for Seismic Event

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On Wednesday, October 23rd, the Portland Water Bureau conducted an emergency full scale exercise called the Fall Thump. The primary objective of the exercise was to test and evaluate the bureau’s Damage Assessment Teams (DAT) ability to respond following a moderate earthquake.  The drill tested the bureau’s damage assessment plans and procedures and familiarized emergency response personnel with their damage assessment roles, responsibilities and equipment.

Jamaal Folsom, serving as the exercise director, worked closely with an exercise design and planning team comprised of subject matter experts from both the Water Bureau and Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM).  The exercise plan used guidance set forth in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP). 

Steve Schenk, Incident Commander for the Exercise (standing in center), was responsible for the overall management of the Water Bureau’s response.

The full-day exercise involved over 60 staff from across the Water Bureau, including a fully staffed Incident Management Team (IMT), Simulation Cell, controllers and evaluators, six two-person DAT teams and 12 operating engineers (OE).

DAT Teams gathered together and then deployed to identify potential issues and work to craft solutions at damage sites following the simulated earthquake.

While much of the exercise play engaged the IMT working in the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) located then in SW Portland, the bulk of the action occurred in the field. Six DAT teams were dispatched to work in conjunction with the Lead OE’s in their respective districts to conduct rapid visual and detailed assessments of damaged water infrastructure.  Most of the teams were able to collect the information in the field with laptops and paper forms, and then electronically report that data back to the EOC from the field via WebEOC for further analysis. 

“By activating our EOC and deploying our DAT teams, we attempted to simulate a realistic scenario that fostered communication and problem solving between DAT teams and District OE’s, identification of alternate transportation routes and the use of multiple communication tools including 800 MHz radios and satellite phones,” says Jamaal Folsom. “Conducting exercises such as this is necessary in order to test and evaluate our plans, equipment and capabilities in a stress free environment so that we’re better prepared to respond when the real deal occurs.”  

The interactive exercise achieved realism through on-scene actions and decisions, communication devices and equipment deployment.  All decisions and actions by Water Bureau staff occurred in real time and generated real responses and implications for other staff.

“We’re pleased with the outcome of the exercise as we obtained a good deal of useful information that we’ll fold into our after-action and improvement planning,” says Folsom. 

The Water Bureau thanks all participants and the PBEM staff for their assistance in planning the Fall Thump 2013 and taking part in the exercise conduct and evaluation.

Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information

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Portland Water Bureau’s Interstate Renovation Project moves into Phase 2

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Loading dock demolition






Contractor Hoffman Construction Company is preparing the site for Phase 2 of the Portland Water Bureau’s Interstate Renovation Project -- the construction of the new Maintenance & Construction building. The Portland Water Bureau’s Interstate Operations Facility is located near the Rose Quarter on N. Interstate Avenue.Site of building two

During construction, parking of all bureau fleet vehicles has been moved to the upper lots. The demolition of the loading dock and its canopy occurred the week of December 9, 2013 (see photos).

Pile driving to support the building’s foundation will begin in mid-January and continue through February 2014. Neighboring businesses have been notified to expect the loud intermittent noise.

Construction workers will be on site six days a week, from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Saturday.

The critical work of maintaining Portland's 2,100-square-mile water supply system is based from the Water Bureau's Interstate Operations Facility. This 11-acre facility accommodates approximately 240 employees and includes a water control center, water quality laboratory, material storage area, vehicle parking, and some administrative offices. Construction and maintenance field personnel and associated heavy construction equipment are also supported and staged from this facility.

Phase 2 will consist of the construction of a 38,000-square-foot building that will provide office space and training facilities. The building will have an exterior façade designed to blend in with the architecture of adjacent businesses. The primary material will be locally manufactured brick and metal panels that will match the appearance of the existing 1992 Operations Building.

Terry Black
Public Information

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