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Portland Water Bureau

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Ode to Fountain Operators - Fountain Operations Transfers to Portland Parks & Recreation

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Vanna White poses with John Bee for Wheel of Fortune filming by Salmon Street Springs Fountain in 2011With the new fiscal year, the responsibility of Portland’s decorative fountains is being transferred to Portland Parks & Recreation. Information and updates about the municipal fountains can now be found on the Portland Parks and Recreation website.

We would like to take one last chance to recognize the dedication of the Portland Water Bureau’s “fountains staff.” Responsibility of the municipal fountains has changed over time and the task has been back in the hands of bureau staff since 1999. One of the long-time fountains operator, John Bee*, has mixed feelings about the change. “We’re kind of sad, but also happy,” said John.

Maintaining all 19 fountains has been a significant duty. The operating engineers have been involved most directly in the task of cleaning and maintaining the public fountains, but the painters have also removed their fair share of graffiti. A myriad of other staff have also been involved in different fountain-related work; from engineers providing feedback in the design process for new fountains to Customer Service representatives fielding hundreds of calls on hot days, asking “Is Jamison on?”

Yet, beyond the day-to-day work that the fountains require, what will be remembered most are all of the stories. Here are just a few:

• The Rose Festival always brings its share of carnival related trash, but one year someone decapitated a giant plush bear. Staff found bits of Styrofoam for the next two years!

• Vanna White, hostess of Wheel of Fortune, met staff while taping for the show with a backdrop of Salmon Street Springs.

• A tourist from Europe lost his expensive hearing aid and somehow John Bee managed to fish it out, and it still worked.

• A few summers ago, there was a soaping spree at Ira Keller Fountain. In the end, it was the local transients who made it known that it wasn’t cool to put soap in the fountain.

Staff often receive a great deal of compliments, especially from tourists who are surprised to see such well-cared-for fountains.” People love the fountains, but many end up trashing them, said John “Graffiti, shopping carts, cigarette butts… you name it and our fountain staff have likely seen it.”

Each fountain is truly unique and has required a certain learning curve and ability to problem-solve. The Water Bureau has been lucky to have the talented staff who have worked so hard to maintain Portland’s public fountains. The bureau is certain that the Portland Parks  & Recreation staff will take the same pride in their work in maintaining the fountains.

Darcy Cronin
Sr. Community Outreach & Information Representative

* This article is based on a tour of the fountains with John Bee, Operating Engineer.

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Volunteer to Help Keep Powell Butte Nature Park Healthy & Safe for People & Wildlife

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Powell Butte Nature Park

On Saturday, July 13, from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon, the public is invited to volunteer their time and work skills alongside volunteers from the Friends of Powell Butte Nature Park, Hands On Greater Portland and Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) to perform necessary park and trail restoration work.

Restoration projects include trail maintenance, fence repairs, invasive plant species removal, trash pick-up and other tasks. Please wear long pants, long sleeve shirt, sturdy walking shoes, and bring a hat, water bottle, and if needed, rain gear.

Please be aware that a major construction project is underway at Powell Butte as a contractor for the Portland Water Bureau builds the city’s new 50-million gallon underground reservoir and several new permanent park structures.  Volunteers are reminded to keep out of fenced hazardous construction areas and to stay on open designated park trails during the restoration event.   

Volunteers will meet at the Gates Property parking lot, located SE Holgate Boulevard, east of at SE 136th Avenue. PP&R staff will be on site to greet you and will provide gloves, tools, training for the day's activity and a snack to keep you energized.  There is a public restroom located at the parking lot.

This volunteer opportunity is family-friendly and all ages are welcome to participate. However, children must be accompanied and supervised by an adult for the duration of the volunteer event.

For more information, please contact Susan Hawes, PP&R Stewardship Coordinator, at or (503) 823-6131.  

Lindsay Wochnick
Community Information & Involvement

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July is Smart Irrigation Month

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Water late in the evening or early in the morning!

Summer water use really starts to rise in July as Portlanders get to work watering their lawns, flowers and vegetable gardens. This trend holds true across the country, so in order to increase awareness about smart water use outdoors, the Irrigation Association named July as Smart Irrigation Month.

Create a vibrant outdoor space by following a few tips when it comes to irrigating your lawn and landscape: 

  • Water when the potential for evaporation is low – late in the evening or, preferably, early in the morning.
  • If you water your landscape with a hand-held hose, use a device with an automatic shutoff nozzle.
  • Use a drip irrigation system in planting beds that allows water to work its way slowly into the soil and keeps evaporation to a minimum.
  • If using an in-ground automatic irrigation system, regularly inspect and repair broken heads and pipes immediately.

Remember, a well-designed and well-maintained irrigation system will use water efficiently while creating a healthy landscape for years to come.

Click here for additional ways to make every drop count in your landscape.

Sabrina Litton
Portland Water Bureau Efficiency Program

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Reservoir Demonstration at Mt. Tabor Park Expected to be Peaceful

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City bureaus encourage demonstrators to be good stewards
of one of Portland’s historic parks and the City’s drinking water.

Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) and the Portland Water Bureau expect a peaceful, unpermitted demonstration today, July 12, at the city’s historic Mt. Tabor Park, located at SE 60th Avenue and SE Salmon Street.  The bureaus are aware that demonstrators plan to gather at 5:00 p.m.

Demonstrators are concerned about a federal mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that requires the City of Portland to cover its drinking water reservoirs to protect against any contamination.

Since 2006, the City has repeatedly sought to delay or avoid the EPA’s Long-Term Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule (LT2) mandate, but a federal court and the Oregon Health Authority have consistently rejected these appeals. Faced with a lack of further legal options and with deadlines looming, the City is moving forward with compliance, which includes disconnecting the Mt. Tabor open-air reservoirs once new enclosed reservoirs at Powell Butte and Kelly Butte are completed. The deadline to disconnect the Mt. Tabor reservoirs is December 31, 2015.  A June 2013 statement with more information on the City’s fight against LT2 can be found here.

“We welcome people who wish to assemble peacefully and exercise their first amendment rights,” stated Mayor Charlie Hales.  “We ask that demonstrators who come to Mt. Tabor to express their views also respect the park and follow park rules, so that everyone can enjoy it safely.

“I want to be clear that the City’s primary responsibility must be to protect the safety of our drinking water.  The water in Mt. Tabor’s open reservoirs goes directly to half of Portland’s households, and we will take all necessary steps to keep it safe.”

Portland Parks & Recreation is responsible for the protection and public enjoyment of our parks.  The Parks Bureau and Portland police have reached out to organizers of the planned demonstration.  While organizers have refused to secure a permit for the event, the demonstration is expected to be peaceful.  Portland Parks & Recreation will be educating demonstrators on park rules and good stewardship of our public land and its vegetation.  Mt. Tabor Park opens at 5:00 a.m. and closes at 12:00 a.m.

“Portland Parks & Recreation and the members of the City Council support free speech activities,” says Portland Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz.  “Those activities must be balanced with every Portlander’s right to access clean and safe parks in every neighborhood including Mt. Tabor. 

“PP&R is the steward of these public lands and it is our responsibility to protect the park and its natural areas. I am hoping for a peaceful event where people exercise their right to free expression mindful of the need to maintain our parks and water resources for the benefit of all Portlanders. I ask that demonstrators respect the special day for the couples holding weddings in the park this weekend. I hope Mt. Tabor Park, with its historic reservoirs and magnificent views, will continue to be a great location for weddings and other events for many generations to come.”

PP&R asks all visitors to help us to be good stewards of the park by adhering to applicable rules including but not limited to:

  • No camping (City Code 14A.50.020)
  • No structures are allowed without a permit (City Code 14A.50.050 and 20.12.080)
  • Properly dispose of any trash (City Code 20.12.090)
  • Protect the park and park vegetation (City Code 20.12.100)
  • Keep your dogs on-leash except in designated off-leash areas; please dispose of dog waste properly (City Code 20.12.140)
  • Protect Portland’s drinking water supply; do not throw or deposit anything into any of the reservoirs (City Code 14A.50.130)

Please adhere to park hours. No one shall be allowed in Mt. Tabor Park during the hours of park closure; the park will be closed from 12:01 a.m.(midnight) to 5:00 a.m. (City Code 20.12.210)

Please direct any questions about the reservoirs to Tim Hall, Public Information Manager, at, or call 503-823-6926. 

Please direct any park related questions to Mark Ross, Public Information Officer at

City of Sandy will be the 20th Wholesale Customer

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City of Sandy becomes the 20th wholesale customer for the Portland Water Bureau.

The City of Sandy will be serving drinking water from the Bull Run watershed beginning in early 2014. The Bull Run is one of five sub-watersheds in the Sandy River basin and is located just a few miles outside of the city. Sandy will become the Portland Water Bureau’s 20th wholesale customer, and will blend approximately half a million gallons of Bull Run water per day beginning in 2014, with the option of purchasing up to 10 million gallons per day in future years.

Portland Water Bureau crews modified its Hudson Intertie Facility to connect the City of Portland's Bull Run water supply to the City of Sandy’s water supply system. A new pipeline is currently under construction on Hudson Road between Southeast Lusted Road and Bluff Road, and work will continue south on Bluff Road into Sandy throughout the summer.

In the last few weeks, the City of Sandy contractor began installing  the piping and valves that will allow water to flow to Sandy later this fall.

For more information about the project go to the City of Sandy’s project webpage.

Terry Black
Public Information

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