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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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Simple Tips for Sprucing Up Your Sprinkler

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Sprinklers needs regular maintenance too.It’s been a long, hard winter for your yard. While your plants go dormant to cope with the colder weather, your sprinkler system can feel the effects of winter, too. Cracks in the pipes can lead to costly leaks, and broken sprinkler heads can waste water and money. Now is the perfect time to spruce up your irrigation system so you don’t waste water and money this summer.

Before you ramp up your watering this spring, look over your irrigation system by remembering four simple steps: inspect, connect, direct, and select:

  • Inspect. Check your system for clogged, broken or missing sprinkler heads. If you’re not the do-it-yourself type, look for an irrigation professional certified through a WaterSense labeled program. View a list of list of WaterSense partners in the Portland area.
  • Connect.  Examine points where the sprinkler heads connect to pipes/hoses. If water pools in your landscape or you have large wet areas, you could have a leak in your system. A leak about as small as the tip of a ballpoint pen (or 1/32nd of an inch) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month.
  • Direct. Are you watering the driveway, house, or sidewalk instead of your yard? Redirect sprinklers to apply water only to the landscape.
  • Select. An improperly scheduled irrigation controller can waste a lot of water and money. Update your system’s schedule with the seasons, or select a WaterSense labeled controller to take the guesswork out of scheduling.

Don’t forget to add “sprinkler spruce-up” to your spring cleaning list this year.

For more tips and resources visit the Portland Water Bureau’s efficiency program at or EPA’s WaterSense program at

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Slow Down for Work Zone Safety

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Install of two large underground utility vaults on SE 147th Ave. at SE Powell Blvd

A contractor for the Portland Water Bureau is installing two large underground utility vaults on SE 147th Ave. at SE Powell Blvd. Traffic headed both east and west on SE Powell Blvd. may be slowed or stopped briefly to allow vehicles to turn north onto SE 147th Ave. or to exit onto Powell Blvd.  Please stay aware and find alternate routes if possible.

With dry summer weather, motorists in Portland will likely see more construction work that impacts city streets.  A lot of this work is to upgrade water mains and sewer pipes, and repair road pavement.  With this necessary work comes an increase in traffic delays. 

National studies indicate that driver distraction is the biggest factor in work zone collisions along with excessive vehicle speed.  And 40 percent of work zone collisions occur in the transition area just prior to the work zone.

The Portland Water Bureau asks motorists and bicyclists to keep in mind the following safety tips when observing bright orange signs, cones, barricades, utility workers and traffic flaggers: 

  • Use an alternate route. When you can, avoid streets with posted work zones.
  • Expect delays.  Plan to leave early so you can drive safely through the work zone and avoid having to rush.
  • Be alert. Pay attention to the driving task and watch the cars ahead of you.
  • Obey all speed and warning signs. They are there for your safety and will help prevent a collision.  
  • Do not tailgate.  Double the following distance.
  • Carefully move over.  When possible give workers more room between them and your vehicle, but do not veer into on-coming traffic lane.
  • Watch for vehicle access. Be aware that temporary construction may impact either side of the road, or adjacent streets.
  • Stay clear of construction vehicles.  Heavy vehicles travel in and out of the work areas and can make sudden moves. 

Please help keep you, other drivers and utility workers protected by slowing down for work zone safety.

Lindsay Wochnick
Community Information and Involvement

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Join us for Cycle the Well Field on June 1st

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What local resource is capable of producing close to 100 million gallons per day of high quality drinking water, is the second largest water source in the State of Oregon and is used as a back up water supply for customers served by the Portland Water Bureau? 

Answer: The Columbia South Shore Well Field!

Columbia South Shore Well Field Groundwater Aquifers

The Columbia South Shore Well Field is a series of 27 water supply wells located between the Columbia River and I-84, and stretching from I-205 in Portland all the way to Troutdale. Groundwater from the well field is used to supplement water from the Bull Run watershed during turbidity events or hot summer weather when water demand is greatest.

Columbia South Shore Well Field

Saturday, June 1, 2013 from 8:45am - 1:30pm personnel from the Portland Water Bureau and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council invite you, your friends and family aged 12 and up to take part in a yearly bike tour of this resource during the “Cycle the Well Field” event. 

Cycle the Well Field participants

Learn about the history, safety and functionality of Portland's underground drinking water system while pedaling over relatively flat terrain at a slow/moderate pace. Helmets are required and light refreshments provided. Bring water and a lunch or plan to purchase a box lunch. 

Advanced registration is required for this free event. Please contact Penny Beckwith, Columbia Slough Watershed Council Outreach Director, at 503-281-1132 or register on-line

Lindsay Wochnick
Community Information and Involvement

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TRAFFIC ADVISORY 05/22/13: Repairs to Elk Fountain Closes One Traffic Lane on SW Main Street

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Elk Fountain repairs May 2013

UPDATE: 5/30/2013

Due to the rainy weather, contractors were not able to finish the repairs to the base of the Elk Fountain. Work is scheduled to resume the week of June 10th. Another traffic advisory will be posted shortly before the work begins.

A contractor is currently making repairs to the Elk Fountain, located on SW Main Street, between SW 3rd and SW 4th avenues in downtown Portland. SW Main Street is a one-way, two lane street with traffic traveling westbound. 

Traffic is reduced to one lane around the work zone through Friday, May 24, 2013.  Work hours are 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

The Water Bureau crew is repairing minor damage to the historic fountain caused by two past incidents involving automobile collisions.

Motorists and bicyclists are encouraged to take alternate routes.

Tim Hall
Public Outreach

Phase 1 of Water Mains Project Completed in Hillsdale Neighborhood

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SW Carolina Main Project

The Portland Water Bureau recently completed the first phase of its SW Carolina Pump Main Project, which installed 900 feet of 24-inch diameter water supply pipeline leading to the Burlingame storage tanks on SW 10th Avenue near Wilson High School. Another 500 feet of 4 to 16-inch diameter pipe was also installed or upgraded. In addition to the pipe work, the largest of the three tanks underwent seismic retrofits to make its joints flexible in an earthquake. Underground vaults were also installed to house altitude valves that control the water level elevation of the tanks remotely. 

The Burlingame tank site is a major hub in the city’s water distribution system for much of southwest Portland. These upgrades increased the system’s reliability and versatility as well as reduced their vulnerability.

The second phase of the SW Carolina Pump Main Project will install a new pipeline to connect the Burlingame tanks and the Westwood tank, which will create connections between the Fulton Pump Station to the Carolina Pump Station. This work is slated to begin in early summer 2014 and be completed by December 2014.

Crews will install 3,400 feet of new 24-inch diameter pipe from the intersection of SW Burlingame Avenue and SW Chestnut Street, north along SW Burlingame Avenue, then turn east on SW Burlingame Terrace down to SW Terwilliger Boulevard. Once on SW Terwilliger Boulevard, the construction will continue north until the traffic island at SW Capitol Highway where new underground vaults will be installed.

While fairly straightforward, the project is expected to be challenging due to its neighborhood impacts. A deep four-foot wide pipe trench will need to be dug through narrow, 10 to 12 foot wide residential streets. Once the project moves onto SW Terwilliger Boulevard, traffic impacts are expected to be significant since this is a major thoroughfare through southwest hills communities. The vault work in the traffic island on SW Capitol Highway will cause further traffic delays.

The Portland Water Bureau is committed to keeping area residents and motorists informed of the project’s schedule and its impacts as the project planning moves forward.  While most of Portland’s water is gravity fed, southwest hills neighborhoods rely on pumps to deliver water to higher elevations.

Undoubtedly this work will cause some inconvenience to the area, but the project will significantly increase the reliability and versatility of Portland’s water system. 

For information about this project, contact Darcy Cronin, Public Information, at 503-823-3520.

Darcy Cronin
Public Information