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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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NE Sandy Water Main Repaired, Street Repair Begins

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The water main break on Northeast Sandy Boulevard between NE 131st and 138th  avenues has been repaired. Water service has been restored.

Oregon Department of Transportation contractors have begun work on the street repair. Sandy Boulevard will remain closed for the next several days, from NE 122nd to NE 138th avenues, for the repair. Alternate routes are Airport Way and Halsey.

Yesterday, September 10, a 16-inch water pipe ruptured, causing water to flow into the immediate area. Water Bureau crews shut down the water main and made the repair overnight.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY 09/10/14: Northeast Sandy Boulevard closed between Northeast 131st and 138th Avenues due to water main break

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A water main break on Northeast Sandy Boulevard between Northeast 131st and 138th  avenues has closed down both east and westbound lanes. Traffic is being detoured around the site. Traffic is advised to avoid the area.  

Early this afternoon a 16-inch water pipe ruptured, causing water to flow into the immediate area. Water Bureau crews are onsite shutting down the water and making repairs. It is unknown at this time how many customers may be out of water but some multifamily units are affected.

Customers in the area may be experiencing dirty water and/or low pressure at their home. The discoloration does not pose a health risk. However, avoid using tap water or running the washing machine or dishwasher until the repair is complete. If customers experienced dirty water, once the repair is complete, turn on each cold water faucets and allow them to run for several minutes or until the water is clear. Updates will be posted here.

Water Bureau Engages Local Youth in Productive Service

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Summer is a very demanding time for the Portland Water Bureau's grounds crew, which maintains more than 150 properties scattered from Portland to the watershed. When help is offered, it is much appreciated. 

For the past six summers, youth and mentors from Straightway Services volunteer with Water Bureau staff, spreading mulch at local HydroParks and improving Powell Butte trails with new bark dust.


Water Bureau Grounds Maintenance Supervisor Rich Rice organizes, oversees, and strongly believes in the partnership between Straightway Services and the bureau.

“I look forward each summer to working with the youth and mentors from Straightway Services. These kids work hard, and I’m really proud of them,” says Rich. “I really do appreciate the Water Bureau offering the youth opportunities such as this to contribute in meaningful ways to our community.”


Straightway Services began in 2007 under the direction of Pastor Dwight Minnieweather. The youth receive classroom training on key life skills, mentorship and employment resources, and spiritual guidance, and volunteer and offer service to their local community. Straightway Services also runs a youth academy year round that provides mentors for youth and their families. They provide critical counseling for the parents on a weekly basis, helping them deal with traumatic life experiences such as addiction, divorce, incarceration, and homelessness.

If you'd like to learn more about Straightway Services, visit their website.

Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information

Cleaning Portland’s Water Mains

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Crews open specifically‐selected fire hydrants and close specifically selected valves under controlled conditions to scour the inner surface of water distribution pipes.Every spring and summer, the Portland Water Bureau works to clean out a portion of the nearly 2,000 miles of the water pipes that lie underneath our streets. Drinking water systems, especially unfiltered systems like Portland, need to routinely clean pipes to improve water quality. Over time, very fine sediment and organic matter from the Bull Run settle out of the water and accumulate in the bottom of the pipes. While the sediments are generally harmless, they can make the disinfectant in the water less effective. Additionally, sudden changes in the flow of water can disturb these sediments resulting in discolored water.

To prevent these and other water quality issues, the Water Bureau uses a technique called unidirectional flushing to clean the insides of the pipes. Unidirectional flushing forces water to move at a much faster speed than normal to scour the insides of the pipes and clean out sediments. Find more information, including maps of areas currently being flushed, on the Water Bureau’s Unidirectional Flushing webpage at

This year, crews are working in Southwest and Northwest Portland neighborhoods. The flushing in Southwest neighborhoods finished up in July and the flushing crew is now working in Northwest neighborhoods.

What to Expect When Flushing is Happening in Your Neighborhood 
Unidirectional flushing will have minimal impacts to customers. If you see hydrant flushing crews working in the area, please drive carefully and treat them like any other road construction crew.

Flushing usually occurs Monday through Friday, between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.

During Flushing
Residents in the immediate vicinity of flushing may notice temporarily discolored water and lower than normal water pressure. The discoloration does not pose a health risk. However, avoid using tap water or running the washing machine or dishwasher until flushing is complete.

After Flushing
If you experience some discoloration in your water, turn on each cold water faucet in your home and allow it to run for several minutes or until the water is clear.

Questions or Concerns
If you experience on-going water quality problems, call the Water Bureau's Water Line Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 503-823-7525.

Water Quality

Behind the Bubblers

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Benson Bubbler located at SW 5th Avenue & SW Madison StreetBenson Bubbler located at SW 5th Avenue & SW Madison Street

Perhaps the best known drinking fountains in the City of Roses are the legendary "Benson Bubblers," the iconic four bronze bowls that provide fresh, Bull Run drinking water throughout downtown. The Benson Bubblers were named after businessman and philanthropist Simon Benson who donated $10,000 for the purchase and installation of 20 fountains in 1912. 

Today, there are 51 “true” four-bowl Benson Bubblers. Forty-eight are installed in downtown Portland while three reside on the Eastside. Two bubblers do exist outside of Portland; one in Portland’s sister city Sapporo, Japan and the other bubbles at the Maryhill Museum of Art in Washington State.

An additional 79 bubblers replicating the original style have been cast and installed over the years, not to be confused with the “true” 51 Benson Bubblers.

Nellie Bubblers

Three-Bowl "Nellie Bubbler

The one and only three-bowl “Nellie” bubbler in Portland is located in front of Portland Fire Station 1 at SW First Avenue and SW Ash Street. This rare three-bowl steel variation, named after benefactor Nellie Robinson, joins two four-bowl Nellie bubblers located between SW Clay Street and SW Market Street on SW Third Avenue.

Single Bowl Bubblers
The 70 single-bowl fountains can be found from Linnton to Sellwood, and from the SW Hills to Mt. Scott. Although the single-bowl variations look like Benson Bubblers, they are not.

Stone & Other Style Single Bowl
The Water Bureau is also responsible for the upkeep of two stone fountains, located respectively in Northeast and Northwest Portland, and four other single-bowl fountains in Northeast, North, and at the Powell Butte Nature Park’s Visitor Center.

Maintenance a Must

Cleaning the Bubblers Cleaning the Bubblers

Ground Maintenance staff are tasked with keeping each of the bubbling fountains cleaned, maintained, and running year round. Cleaning and preserving the different types of fountains takes varying techniques, tools, and parts and much institutional knowledge.

Conservation Efforts
Today, the bubblers use less than one-tenth of one percent of Portland's daily water demand. Here’s why:

  • In 1995, the bureau narrowed the feed lines to the bubblers, cutting water use almost in half.
  • In 2000, the bureau installed timers which shut the fountains off during low-usage periods.
  • In 2005, small, flow-restricting devices in the bubblers were installed, reducing the amount of water the fountains use by 40 percent.

For additional information on the bubblers, including a brochure and walking map, visit

Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information