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Proposed Washington Park Reservoir Project Type IV Land Use Review Application: Council Hearing Final Decision Scheduled for June 10

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In order to comply with federal and state mandates, and ensure a healthy, resilient, and secure water system, the Portland Water Bureau is moving forward with a project to update the Washington Park reservoir site in southwest Portland.

After giving unanimous tentative approval on May 13, the Portland City Council will make a final decision on the Portland Water Bureau’s Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project Type IV Land Use Review (LUR) application on Wednesday, June 10 at 2 p.m. in City Hall Council Chambers at 1221 SW 4th Avenue.

Members of the public are welcome to attend. However, no public testimony will be heard as the public comment and testimony period closed on May 7. Opportunity for public input included the Historic Landmarks Commission meeting in March 2015 and the City Council hearing in April 2015.

The initial Type IV LUR application proposes the removal of the Weir Building (screen house), portions of lower Reservoir 4’s basin, and upper Reservoir 3’s basin in Washington Park. The gatehouses, dams, and other historic features will be protected and restored.

Proposed Project
The Water Bureau’s Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project proposes to build a new below-ground reservoir in the same general footprint as the existing upper Reservoir 3, with a reflecting pool on top.

The lower Reservoir 4 will be disconnected from the public drinking water system and a lowland habitat area/bioswale and a reflecting pool will be constructed in the basin. Much of the Reservoir 4 basin and the slope to the west are needed to provide landslide abatement; the slope will be restored to its pre-reservoir condition.

The new below-ground reservoir in the place of Reservoir 3 will be constructed so that it is outside of the moving edge of the landslide, which will help protect it from damage.

The project addresses major reservoir issues, including recurrent landslide damage, compliance with federal law, seismic vulnerability, and deterioration of the 120-year-old structures.

In December 2014, the Water Bureau submitted the first (Type IV) of three LUR applications to the City of Portland Bureau of Development Services (BDS) for the proposed Washington Park Reservoir Project.

On February 9, BDS deemed the Type IV LUR application complete, issued a Request for Response, and officially opened the public comment period and set the dates for the Historic Landmarks Commission meeting and the first City Council Hearing.

On March 30, a public meeting was held before the Historic Landmarks Commission to review the Type IV LUR application. During the public meeting, BDS presented the Staff Report and Recommendation, the Water Bureau discussed the project, and members of the public offered testimony. The Commission voted 3 to 1 in support of the initial LUR application and forwarded their recommendation to the City Council.

On April 23, the first of three City Council hearings was held. During the hearing, members of the public had the opportunity to offer testimony. At the hearing’s conclusion, the City Council agreed to allow the record to remain open through May 7.

On May 13, City Council held a second hearing for the purpose of deliberations on the application. The record had previously been closed, and no testimony was accepted. After deliberating, Mayor Charlie Hales and the City Council gave unanimous tentative approval to the Type IV LUR application.  

The next step will be a final decision by the Mayor and Council at a hearing on Wednesday, June 10.

Type III LUR Application Package
In spring 2015, the Water Bureau will submit a second LUR application package that includes two Type III applications: 

The LUR package will propose the construction of a new covered reservoir, reflecting pools, lowland habitat area/bioswale, walkways, and historic preservation and rehabilitation actions. 

The second LUR application process will also include public comment periods and public hearings to ensure public notification and the opportunity to comment before a final land use decision is rendered.

Before work permits are issued or construction begins, all three LUR applications must be approved.

The LUR applications are a result of a robust public involvement process that included multiple public open houses, nine Community Sounding Board meetings that guided design for the required visible features of a new reservoir in Washington Park, five public meetings before the Historic Landmarks Commission, and three City Council hearings.

Additional Information & Contacts
For detailed project information, visit the project webpage or contact Water Bureau Public Information staff at 503-823-3028 or by e-mail. Visit the Bureau of Development Services’ website or call 503-823-7300 for more information on the land use review application process.

Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information

Join Our Team

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If you're interested in joining an award-winning public utility where employees thrive on the pride of delivering a life-essential product with world class customer service, the Portland Water Bureau might be just the place for you. 

The Water Bureau is a recognized leader in the utility industry. We've achieved this success by investing in the very best people and empowering them to find new and better ways to meet our customer's needs. 

The Water Bureau currently employs a diverse workforce of more than 500 full-time equivalent employees. The bureau has over $8 billion in system assets, a proposed annual budget of $212 million and a projected five-year Capital Improvement Program budget of approximately $392 million.

All current job postings with the City of Portland are posted online, and updated weekly. We are an equal opportunity employer that values diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Join our team!

Engineering Associate - Mechanical  
Closing Date/Time: Wed. 05/27/15 4:30 PM Pacific Time 
Salary: $29.61 - $39.67 Hourly
Location: Portland Building, 1120 SW 5th Ave, Oregon 
Apply online 

Water Bureau Administrator  
Closing Date/Time: Mon. 06/01/15 4:30 PM Pacific Time 
Salary: $138,984.00 - $199,160.00 Annually
Location: Portland Building, 1120 SW 5th Ave, Oregon 
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Communications Director (Public Information Manager) 
Closing Date/Time: Mon. 06/01/15 4:30 PM Pacific Time 
Salary: $6,227.00 - $8,370.00 Monthly
Location: Portland Building, 1120 SW 5th Ave, Oregon
Apply online 

Customer Accounts Specialist I   
Closing Date/Time: Mon. 06/08/15 4:30 PM Pacific Time 
Salary: $17.40 - $25.09 Hourly
Location: Portland Building, 1120 SW 5th Ave, Oregon
Apply online 

Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information

Customer Service Walk-In Center Closed May 25

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The Portland Water Bureau's Customer Service Walk-In Center will be closed on Monday, May 25 in observance of the Memorial Day holiday. 

The Walk-In Center, located on the first floor of the Portland Building at 1120 SW 5th Avenue, will reopen on Tuesday, May 26 at 8 a.m. 

For your convenience, you may pay your bill:

  • Online.
  • By Visa or MasterCard by calling our automated payment system at 503-823-7770 and pressing 1.
  • Leave a payment in the night box located outside the front door at 1120 SW 5th Avenue Portland, OR 97204.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

Customer Service

Mt. Tabor Reservoir Disconnection Project Land Use Hearing Scheduled

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In order to comply with federal and state mandates, and ensure a healthy, resilient, and secure water system, the Portland Water Bureau is moving forward with a project to disconnect the Mt. Tabor reservoirs from the distribution system.

City Council Hearing
The City Council hearing for Land Use Application LU 14-218444 HR EN Mt. Tabor Reservoirs Disconnection will be held on May 28, 2015 at 2 pm in City Council Chambers. See the Bureau of Development Services calendar on the Auditor’s Office website.  At this time, City Council members will hear public testimony and possibly vote to tentatively approve or deny the application.

Hearing Process
The City Council will serve as a quasi-judicial review body, in accordance with Zoning Code under Chapter 33.730 - Quasi-Judicial Procedures. At the hearing, the City Council may adopt the review body's decision report, modify it, or reject it based on information presented at the hearing and in the record; or the Council may make a tentative action and direct that proposed findings and a decision be prepared.

Public Comments
The public is invited to comment. Comments for consideration by City Council at the upcoming appeal hearing can be e-mailed to and, faxed to 503-823-5630, or mailed to:

Hillary Adam
Land Use Services, Bureau of Development Services
RE: LU 14-249689
1900 SW Fourth Avenue, Suite 4500
Portland, OR 97201

Comments will also be taken as testimony at the hearing on May 28, 2015.

Brief History of this Land Use Review
The City of Portland's Land Use Review process, administered by the Bureau of Development Service (BDS), is designed to provide the public with appropriate notification, information, and opportunities to comment before final land use decisions are rendered. 

The Portland Water Bureau applied for this land use review last fall, and completed the application on October 24, 2014. BDS then reviewed and determined the Land Use Review application was complete and scheduled the first of several hearings.

Historic Landmarks Commission Meeting
On December 1, 2014, the first of four Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC) hearings took place. The HLC approved the Portland Water Bureau’s Land Use Review III Application with conditions on Monday, February 9, 2015.

The Portland Water Bureau appealed the decision on February 26, 2015. The Mt. Tabor Neighborhood appealed the decision on February 27, 2015.

Project Details
In order to satisfy an unfunded federal water quality mandate, the City of Portland is required to disconnect Portland’s open air reservoirs, including three at Mt. Tabor Park. This work is scheduled to begin in early 2015. Reservoir 7, which is enclosed at Mt. Tabor Park, will stay in service.

Several types of disconnection work are necessary. Some short lengths of buried pipe will be removed, and some new pipe will be installed below ground. Other work will take place inside vaults, both above and below ground, and other structures. None of this work will damage or make non-reversible alterations to the open reservoirs or other historic structures.

Next Steps
If the City Council makes a tentative decision on May 28, they will adopt the final decision and findings two to four weeks later.

Additional Information & Contacts
Visit the Bureau of Development Services’ website or call 503-823-7300 for more information on the land use review application process, or visit the Portland Water Bureau project website for more information about the project.

Terry Black
Public Information

Snow, Portland’s Drinking Water, and Climate Variability

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North Fork Bull RunIf you’re a skier or snowboarder you probably noticed how warmer-than-average temperatures caused a record low snowpack across Oregon this past winter. These conditions led to drought declarations for several Oregon counties whose water supplies depend on snow-fed river basins. Fortunately the City of Portland is not dependent on snowpack, but instead gets its water supply from mostly rain-fed reservoirs in the Bull Run Watershed and a backup groundwater system. While it is extremely unlikely that Portlanders will have to worry about water use restrictions this summer, the Water Bureau is planning for summer supply needs, as it does every year.

But what do the lack of snow and unusually warm winter temperatures indicate about the region’s climate future? Climate models project hotter, drier summers and warmer, wetter winters, with more rain and less snow falling at higher elevations. Climate change is basically “shifting the odds” in favor of these types of conditions so that warm winters with low snow accumulation in the mountains will become increasingly likely in any given year over the next few decades. Winters like 2014/2015 may therefore occur more frequently in our region’s future.

And while climate change refers to the long-term change in average and extreme weather conditions, the Northwest also experiences climatic variability. For example, short-term yearly or seasonal fluctuations in temperature, rain, and snow are significantly affected by the El Niño Southern Oscillation and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. These types of events will continue to influence regional climate, especially in the near term. Because of this, Portlanders can expect to see both high and low snowfall winters in the coming years, even as long-term climate shifts make what the region experienced this past winter a more regular occurrence.

To learn how the Portland Water Bureau is actively working to understand climate change impacts to Portland’s drinking water system, visit these resources.

Kavita Heyn
Climate Science & Sustainability