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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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Groundwater 101 – Just the Facts

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

Join us for Groundwater 101!

Join the Portland Water Bureau and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council for Groundwater 101, a free workshop about local geology and hydrology, the role of groundwater in our drinking water system, and steps Portlanders can take to help protect the city’s drinking water.

Saturday, November 14
9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
NECA-IBEW Training Center
16021 NE Airport Way
Portland, OR 97230

As we’ve seen this summer and fall, groundwater from the Columbia South Shore Well Field helps keep Portland’s gardens growing and businesses bustling during unusually dry conditions. The Columbia South Shore Well Field can also stand in for the unfiltered Bull Run supply if winter storms wash too much sediment into the Bull Run River.

The workshop includes hands-on and classroom-style teaching and is appropriate for adults and high school students. Light refreshments will be provided.

Register online!

Washington Park Reservoir Project: Land Use Hearings Officer Determines Next Steps for Type III Application

By Lindsay Wochnick 0 Comments | Add a Comment

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.

On November 2, 2015, a public hearing was held before the City of Portland Land Use Hearings Officer to review the Portland Water Bureau’s Type III Conditional Use, Environmental, and Tree Reviews application for the Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project.

During the hearing, the Hearings Officer reviewed the application, considered city staff recommendations and public testimony, and determined the next actions: 

November 2-9, 2015 The record will remain open for public submission of new evidence and/or argument about the application from November 2 to November 9, 2015 at 4 p.m.
November 9-16, 2015 The record will be held open from November 9 to November 16, 2015 at 4 p.m. for the Water Bureau (applicant) to respond to any evidence and/or argument in the record.
December 8, 2015 A decision from the Hearings Officer on the application is expected by December 8, 2015 (17 days after record closes).

Public Submission of New Evidence, Argument
New evidence and/or argument may be faxed to 503-823-4347, hand-delivered or mailed to the below address:

City of Portland Hearings Office
Room 3100
1900 SW 4th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97201
RE: LU 15-169656 CU EN TR

The Hearings Office does not accept e-mails. Submittals must be received by the Hearings Office by 4 p.m. on November 9, 2015. Submittals arriving later than that will not be considered. Questions or clarification of submittal requirements should be directed to the Hearings Office.

A courtesy copy of the application submitted to the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) is posted on the Water Bureau’s project webpage at Note that BDS maintains the official application record which tracks updates and revisions over time.

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

Work will primarily be within the Historic District. The project addresses major reservoir issues, including recurrent landslide damage, compliance with federal law, seismic vulnerability, and deterioration of the 120 year-old structures.

The project includes three Land Use Reviews (LUR). Detailed information is included in the chart to the right:

  • Type IV Demolition Review application: The application proposed the removal of the Weir Building (screen house), portions of lower Reservoir 4’s basin, and upper Reservoir 3’s basin in Washington Park.
  • Type III Historic Review application: The application describes historic preservation and rehabilitation actions and proposes construction of a covered reservoir, reflecting pools, lowland habitat area/bioswale, and walkways.          
  • Type III Conditional Use/ Environmental/Tree Reviews application: The application addresses development impacts to the site, park, and surrounding neighborhoods, tree protection, natural-area restoration, and construction and traffic management for the project.

Before work permits are issued or construction begins, all applications must be approved. The applications are a result of a robust public involvement process that included multiple public open houses and nine Community Sounding Board meetings that guided design for the required visible features of the Washington Park project.

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. 

Portland Water Bureau Returns to 100 Percent Bull Run Water

By Jaymee Cuti Add a Comment

The Portland Water Bureau returned to 100 percent Bull Run water today, Nov. 4. After supplementing the Bull Run water with groundwater from the Columbia South Shore Well Field since July 16, recent rains have refilled reservoirs in the Bull Run watershed to near capacity. This allows Portland to return to the Bull Run source. Both the Bull Run and Columbia South Shore Well Field are high quality water sources that meet or surpass all federal and state drinking water regulations.

Through careful planning and investment, Portland has developed two excellent water sources that ensured the City could meet all of its customers’ needs through this long, warm and dry summer. Together, the Bull Run watershed and the Columbia South Shore Well Field constitute a resilient drinking water supply.

It will take one to eight days, depending on location, for 100 percent Bull Run water to move through the distribution system and reach customers. As Portland returns to 100 percent Bull Run water, customers may notice a change in the color of their water. Fall rains wash organic material into the reservoirs, which add tannins to the water, resulting in a faint tea color. These tannins are safe, only affecting the appearance of the water; not the quality. More information on fall color can be found at

While public notification is not required, the Water Bureau informs the media and sensitive users when it activates and discontinues use of groundwater.

To learn more about the Columbia South Shore Well Field, visit Customers with water quality questions are encouraged to contact the Water Line at 503‐823‐7525.

Night Work Reduces Section of SW Macadam Avenue to One Lane Each Direction Overnight Nov. 3 – Nov. 20

By Teresa Black Add a Comment

Portland Water Bureau crews will begin night work on SW Macadam Avenue between SW Nevada Street and SW California Street on Tuesday, November 3 and complete on Friday, November 20. To minimize traffic disruptions, the work will begin at 8 p.m. and be complete by 5 a.m. each day.  During construction, SW Macadam Avenue will remain open in both directions but traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction. Some turning movements could be restricted. As with any construction project, safety is the first priority. Please obey flaggers and all construction signs. 

Project Information
The Hannah Mason Pump Station is being built to replace the aging Fulton Pump Station on SW Nevada Street. Work began in March 2015 and will continue into fall of 2016. The Water Bureau is working closely with Portland Parks & Recreation and other local agencies to coordinate this project with ongoing operations and other projects in the area. Neighbors, local businesses and other stakeholders are updated as work progresses.

For more information, visit the project website:

It’s That Time of Year: Fall Color in Portland Drinking Water

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

It's that time of year!Unusually dry weather this year meant that since July, the Portland Water Bureau has been supplementing the Bull Run water supply with a blend of groundwater from our Columbia South Shore Well Fields.  Fall rain has finally returned, and as of November 4, 2015, Portland will return to 100 percent Bull Run water.  As we return to the Bull Run source, especially at this time of year, some customers may notice a slight color change in their drinking water.

This is a normal occurrence in our system, as our water supply originates in the Bull Run Watershed near Mt. Hood. Before the water is treated and enters the distribution system, it can take on a tint from organic materials that are washed into the streams and the reservoirs in the watershed, particularly after the first fall rains. Drinking water from the Bull Run is not filtered, which is often why the color can be seen in tap water or staining the filters in your business or home.

The color you see is produced by tannins in organic material, much the same as the color you find in a cup of tea. There is nothing harmful to your health from these tannins. The color effects only the appearance of the water, not the quality.

The length of the fall color season varies with the strength and duration of the rains we experience during this time of year and how much organic material is carried into the system.

As always, the Portland Water Bureau constantly monitors the water entering the distribution system to ensure that it continues to meet all state and federal regulations for safe drinking water, and customers are notified of any changes that may affect the quality of the water we bring to you.

Any questions may be directed to the Water Quality Information Line at 503-823-7525.