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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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Hydration Stations at Portland State help students "Take Back the Tap"

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PSU is educating students about sustainable drinking water.College students at PSU now learn more than just anthropology and trigonometry; they’re also
learning how to “ditch bottled water.”

Water coolers dubbed as “Hydration Stations” have been set up across campus to make it easy for students to refill reusable water canisters. 11 stations have been built and 10 more will soon be constructed, thanks to a grant through the Institute for Sustainable Solutions. So far, just one station has prevented 38,000 plastic water bottles from being produced and soon landfilled. There’s even an easy “refill map” to find your nearest tap.

Portland State’s student campaign is part of a national Take Back the Tap initiative led by Food and Water Watch.  Jacob Sherman, a Take Back the Tap student leader, says“When people realize drinking tap water is cheaper, healthier, and more sustainable, they stop buying bottled water anyway.”

Portland State students from the Environmental Club have put together an informative video that really gets at some of the core issues behind why some people prefer bottled water over tap water. Club leader, Andy Eiden says “It’s a psychological thing. They’ve done a good job of getting our psyches attached to the idea that bottled water is a good product, it tastes good, because you see people on TV enjoying this and you identify. That’s one of our bigger barriers.”

As news since this video was produced, the school president has set up a Sustainable Drinking Water Task Force and PSU’s student government has restricted the use of student fees to purchase bottled water.

Plus, if you’ll notice, there’s an oldie-but-goody “I only drink TAP WATER” decal on her stainless steel bottle.

Do you consume 160 plastic water bottles per year?

Or do you share your love of tap water with friends and family?

Darcy Cronin

Senior Community Outreach and Information Representative

Scam artist targets property owners to "pay" for a new water main

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Don't get tricked by any scam, Halloween or any day!A resident on SE 42nd Avenue called to check if the Portland Water Bureau had a private contractor installing a new water main on her street. She said this "contractor" first asked her if she was the property owner and then told her it was her responsibility to pay him for her share for a new water main. This person did not give his name, nor the name of a company.  

The resident made the right move to check to see if the Water Bureau had any private contractor working on her street, and if she indeed had to pay. 

The bureau wants to alert the public to this scam.  Here are a few facts:

  • Only Water Bureau personnel with City of Portland identification should communicate with residents about the scope and schedule of a construction project. Contractors doing construction work for the bureau do not have permission to contact property owners, except to ask them to move a vehicle in the way of any work the residents were notified of by the Water Bureau.
  • Most water system repairs and replacements are made by the Water Bureau's own Maintenance and Construction group. Private contractors are hired to perform work that the Water Bureau is not equipped or staffed to perform like installing hundreds of feet of pipe, or building pump stations and water storage tanks, or certain specialty jobs like the demolition of an old facility.
  • Water system repairs and  improvements like new mains are paid through the Water Bureau's base and Capital Improvement Program budgets, funded through water rates.  In addition, new mains are paid for by private developers when a main is needed to serve their housing or building development.
  • Residents are only responsible to pay for any water pipe repairs from the private property-side of the water meter to their home or building, if their development triggers the requirement for new or upsized water system infrastructure, or if the work is part of a City supervised Local Improvement District project.

The Portland Water Bureau encourages you to contact its Public Information group at 503-823-6926, if you have a question about any water project in your area. You can also visit: Type in your address and click the "Project" tab to find out if there is a sewer or water project planned or active on your street.

Keep yourself safe, and don't get tricked by a scam - Halloween or any day!

Tim Hall

Public Outreach

Fall Color - It's Organic!

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Bull Run "fall color" copyright by Roman JohnstonIt’s as predictable as the fall rains, a few customers start calling about slightly tinted water just after the first big rain of the season. (Most people don’t notice any difference, I never have…but I’m sure I’d call too if I did!)

Our Water Line staff let concerned callers know that it is actually completely normal to see a slight change in water color this time of year.

“The Water Line gets calls every year about this time,” says Administrator David Shaff. “The color only affects what the water looks like; taste and water quality continue to be outstanding.”

No need to worry though, the Portland Water Bureau routinely monitors for all water quality standards. Portland’s drinking water continues to meet all state and federal requirements.


This unusual tint in the water results from the first flush of organic material from vegetation that has been washed from the forest floor and stream channels. The flush of these materials ends up in the drinking water reservoirs in the Bull Run watershed. Some may even say our unfiltered Bull Run water supply system is “organic!”

For more information, contact:

The Water Line


Darcy Cronin

Sr. Community Outreach and Information Representative

Traffic alert: SW Naito Pkwy impacted due to bureau construction, starting Oct 31st

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SW Naito Parkway impacted by Portland Water Bureau construction boring through abandoned tunnel

The abandoned tunnel is located near the Boy Scouts Offices; SW Naito Parkway in background.

Starting Monday, October 31, 2011, a contractor for the Portland Water Bureau will install another protective pipe casing under SW Naito Parkway; this time south of SW Harrison Street through the abandoned Grant Street Tunnel.  The tunnel was once part of Harbor Drive, and is an obstacle that a new 5,000-foot water supply pipeline must go through.

The open pit installation of the pipe casing will take about two weeks to complete. Traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction through the work zone. The speed limit will be posted at 30 mph.  This around-the-clock road change will cause traffic delays as the 8-foot wide by 36-foot long excavation is too large to safely cover with steel plates.

The Water Bureau encourages motorists and bicyclists to find an alternate route.

This work is part of the second phase of the Portland Water Bureau's Westside Header Project that will replace an existing aging pipeline that is critical to the city's water system. Installation of the 36-inch diameter steel pipe will occur on SW Naito Parkway, between SW Caruthers and SW Clay streets, in early 2012.

Tim Hall

Sr. Community Outreach and Involvement Representative

Sign up for Groundwater 101 today!

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Briggy Thomas teaches a Groundwater 101 class - register for this free workshop!In case you’ve always secretly wanted to geek-out on groundwater concepts like Darcy’s law, we’ve got your FREE ticket.


The Portland Water Bureau has been teaching groundwater basics to Portlanders since 1999. There seems to be a steady stream of groundwater newbies ready to learn. Class-goers get schooled in local geology and hydrology, about the role of groundwater in our drinking water system, and how individuals and businesses can help protect this important resource. This year's workshop, in partnership with the Columbia Slough Watershed Council, is interactive and geared toward adults and high school students over 14. Light refreshments are provided.


The class is limited 35 people, and usually fills up!

Online registration is required.


Groundwater 101

Saturday, November 5th

9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.


Rebecca Geisen

Senior Planner, Groundwater Protection Program