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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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Completion of NW Portland Reservoir, Pump Station in the Home Stretch

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In October 2012, the Portland Water Bureau’s Engineering Services Group and Contractor Emery & Sons Construction, Inc. began work on the Forest Park Low Reservoir project. The project includes construction of a 1.3-million gallon reinforced-concrete underground drinking water reservoir and an adjacent 1,408 square-foot pump station on City property off NW Skyline Boulevard, near NW Hawkins Boulevard.

Aerial view of construction site in February 2013   Aerial view of construction site in July 2014
Left to right: Aerial views of the construction site in February 2013 and again in July 2014.

Less than two years later, the project is nearing completion.  By the end of July, the reservoir will be connected to the live water system and fully operational.

The reservoir will soon disappear from sight, being covered and compacted with layers of soil and eventually native grasses.  
The reservoir will soon disappear from sight, being covered and compacted with layers of soil and eventually native grasses.

Currently, water is filling the reservoir. Last week, crews applied hydroseed to help establish grass cover on the slopes adjacent to and covering the 73-foot diameter reservoir. Non-native shrubs and brush lining SW Skyline Boulevard are being removed and will later be replaced with native trees to help expand the neighborhood’s tree canopy.

During this week, Water Bureau engineers will work with contract staff to conduct a walk-through of the site and address punch-list items. The final electrical inspection and testing of the reservoir’s backflow preventer will occur during this time as well.

Most noticeable to the traveling public will be the paving of the NW Skyline Boulevard and NW Hawkins Boulevard intersection July 23 through July 24. The paving is the final step in restoring the roadway that crews excavated in May to connect a critical pipeline from the newly constructed reservoir to the water system.

The new reservoir is part of an overall plan to better serve the current and future water needs of residents living at higher elevations in the Northwest Hills district. It will also help to improve water capacity for emergency fire protection.

For additional information on the Forest Park Low Reservoir project, visit

Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information

Temporary Closure Set for Section of Trail in George Himes Park

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A 350-foot section of the SW Terwilliger Trail in George Himes Park in Southwest Portland will be closed from August through October 2014.George Himes Park trail closure

A contractor for the Portland Water Bureau will be installing pipe under the paved section of the SW Terwilliger Trail starting at SW Capitol Highway and ending approximately 350-feet south of the intersection of SW Terwilliger Boulevard and SW Capitol Highway. A safe alternative route around the construction zone will be provided on SW Terwilliger Boulevard. Trail users can also take the George Himes Trail to avoid the construction zone.

The paved walking path and natural area disturbed by the project will be restored once the project is completed, scheduled for November 2014.

The contractor is installing 3,400 feet of new 24-inch diameter pipe from the intersection of SW Burlingame Avenue and SW Chestnut Street, north along SW Burlingame Avenue, then turn east on SW Burlingame Terrace down to SW Terwilliger Boulevard. Once on SW Terwilliger Boulevard, the construction will continue north to the traffic island at SW Capitol Highway where new underground utility vaults will be installed.

More information can be found on the project website at


**RESCHEDULED DUE TO WEATHER** TRAFFIC ADVISORY 07/17/14: Section of NW Skyline Boulevard Reduced to One Lane for Paving July 23-24, Expect Delays

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Official Traffic Advisory

The Portland Water Bureau will be alternating the closure of the west and eastbound lanes of NW Skyline Boulevard, between NW Hawkins Boulevard and NW Cornell Road, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, July 23 through Thursday, July 24

The work was previously scheduled for July 21 through July 22 but rescheduled due to the weather. 

The alternating lane closure will allow crews to repave about 150-feet of roadway at the NW Hawkins and NW Skyline boulevards intersection. All traffic lanes will reopen when the work day ends.

Flaggers will be stationed to pass traffic through safely. Motorists may experience a 15- to 20-minute delay and are reminded to stay alert and use caution as traffic may suddenly stop. To avoid traffic delays, motorists should use alternate routes around the work site.

In May, the Water Bureau excavated a space under the westbound lane of NW Skyline Boulevard to connect a pipeline from the newly constructed Forest Park Low Reservoir to the water system.  The final step in the process to restore the roadway will be to repave the NW Hawkins intersection from curb to curb.

The 1.3 million gallon underground Forest Park Low Reservoir is part of an overall plan to better serve the current and future water needs of residents living at higher elevations in the Northwest Hills district. It will also help to improve water capacity for emergency fire protection. 

The new reservoir is now connected to the water system and will be brought online during the week of July 21. For additional information on the Forest Park Low Reservoir project, visit

Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information 

Frequently Asked Questions About Water Quality

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Is my water treated by filtration?

No. Neither the groundwater nor Bull Run source water is filtered. The Bull Run source meets the filtration avoidance criteria of the Surface Water Treatment Rule. The State of Oregon approved Portland's compliance with these criteria in 1992. Portland continues to meet these criteria on an ongoing basis.

Does the Portland Water Bureau add fluoride to drinking water?

No. The Portland Water Bureau does not add fluoride to the water. Fluoride is a naturally occurring trace element in surface and groundwater. The U.S. Public Health Service and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider the fluoride levels in Portland’s water sources to be lower than optimal for the prevention of tooth decay. You may want to consult with your dentist about fluoride treatment to help prevent tooth decay, especially for young children.

Is Portland’s water soft or hard?

Portland’s water is very soft. The hardness of Bull Run water is typically 3-8 parts per million (ppm), or approximately ¼ to ½ a grain of hardness per gallon. For short periods of time Portland may supplement the Bull Run supply with groundwater. Portland’s groundwater hardness is approximately 80 ppm (about 5 grains per gallon), which is considered moderately hard.

What is the pH of Portland’s water?

The pH of Portland’s drinking water typically ranges between 7.4 and 8.1.

Are sodium levels in Portland’s drinking water affecting my health?

There is currently no drinking water standard for sodium. Sodium is an essential nutrient. Sodium in Portland's water typically ranges between 2 and 9 ppm, a level unlikely to contribute to adverse health effects.

Is there radon in Portland’s drinking water?

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that cannot be seen, tasted or smelled. Radon has never been detected in the Bull Run surface water supply. In past years, radon has been detected at varying levels in Portland’s groundwater wells. Based on the historical levels and limited amount of groundwater used, radon is unlikely to contribute to adverse health effects. For more information about radon, call the EPA’s Radon Hotline 800-SOS-RADON or

Who can I call about water quality or pressure concerns?

The Water Line, 503-823-7525, can answer your questions and concerns about water quality or pressure. The Water Line is available Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. If you have an emergency after these hours, please contact the after-hours number at 503-823-4874.

How can I get my water tested?

Contact the LeadLine at or 503-988-4000 for information about free lead-in-water testing. For more extensive testing, private laboratories can test your tap water for a fee. Not all labs are accredited to test for all contaminants. For information about accredited labs, call the Oregon Health Authority, Oregon Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program at 503-693-4122.

Water Quality

State of Portland’s Water Supply

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With Governor John Kitzhaber declaring a drought emergency in nine Oregon counties, many Oregonians, including Portlanders, are concerned about the state of their drinking water supply. 

Since 1993, the Portland Water Bureau’s Summer Supply Planning work group has begun planning for summer season conditions in March of each year. This year was no different; however, two challenges increased the complexity of the planning process: 

  • The Water Bureau is implementing modified flow and temperature mandates to support fish habitat in the lower Bull Run River. The bureau’s Operations Group in coordination with the Resource Protection and Planning group utilizes different levels and flows from Dams 1 and 2 to lower the Bull Run streamflow temperatures as required by the federal Clean Water Act.
  • There are numerous conduit and piping projects at the Headworks facility that have made the transition to the new requirements difficult. Without a high level of coordination between groups, maintaining compliance would be even more difficult.

At this time, the Water Bureau does not anticipate making any adjustments to water supply operations, as the reservoirs in the Bull Run are almost full. Later during the summer, a decision will be made on whether to augment the Bull Run supply with the Columbia South Shore Well Field groundwater supply. The bureau will carefully monitor conditions in the coming months, and be able to supply its customers the high quality water that they expect.