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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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PSU Capstone Students Show Appreciation of Water System

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

The Portland Water Bureau has been a long-time partner of the Portland State University (PSU) Senior Capstone program.

The PSU Capstone program is a community-based learning opportunity for students in their senior year of undergraduate studies. This unique academic-water utility partnership helps students learn how to make informed decisions about the future of water systems for themselves, their families, and their communities. It also serves to educate the next generation of potential water management professionals.

PSU Capstone students have developed education and outreach tools to interpret what we do at the Water Bureau for the last several years. Every term there are standout projects that are original, entertaining, effective, or a combination of these three characteristics.

PSU Capstone students Brian and Jacob display their handcrafted three-dimensional topographic model of the Bull Run Watershed.The 2016 summer term students presented their projects this month. Among them was a handcrafted three-dimensional topographic model of the Bull Run Watershed. The intent of this project was to illustrate how geography and topography have allowed our efficient gravity fed system to operate for nearly a century. In addition to being a work of art, the model can be a tactile tool for helping students visiting the Bull Run to understand the scale and complexity of our supply source.

While working on their projects, the students meet with several staff from the bureau to learn about Water Bureau history, infrastructure, and what staff must accomplish to produce cold, clean, and constant water for our customers.

At the end of the term, students were asked to sum up their experiences….and they had some great things to say:

I gained an appreciation for the sheer scope of the effort and thought that goes into ensuring cold, clean and constant water to Portlanders.  This water is thought of so little by those that use it (myself included before this class) which made it great to hear from so many people from the Water Bureau who are constantly thinking about it…. this is clearly more than just a job to the people at the Water Bureau, they take it seriously and seem to enjoy the important work they do.”

As a geography major almost ready to face the real world I am eager to apply for jobs in agencies I never thought would be applicable to my area of study (including the Water Bureau itself).  I am incredibly glad I chose this senior capstone as it has not only been educational, but inspiring to think I could get a job where although my topic may be small, my impact could be incredibly large.”

My final impression of water utilities is probably the same as every other student: How they play such integral parts in our day to day life and that we literally would fall into complete chaos if something were to happen due to some tragic event or something as simple as the water being turned off.  I have more respect for the public utility that works around the clock every day of the year and I hope that I can teach friends and family about how important they are."

To learn more about the program, visit

Imagine a Day Without Water

By Jaymee Cuti Add a Comment

Some communities in America already know how impossible it is to try to go a day without our most precious resource: Water. On Sept. 15, we raise awareness and educate America about the value of water.

How far in your typical day could you make it without water? Maybe your bedhead look is back in fashion, but most of us crave that morning shower. At the least you’d want to be able to flush your toilet and brush your teeth. For those of us who need a cup of coffee to face our mornings, we’d be stopped in our tracks.

You don’t have to go far to realize how much water impacts our daily lives. Basic household needs and the wider world run on water. Just like we couldn’t make it out of the house in the morning, hospitals would close without water. Firefighters couldn't put out fires and farmers couldn't water their crops.

A day without water can be scary to imagine but it doesn’t have to become a reality if we prepare together. At the Portland Water Bureau, we prepare as part of our daily work – by hardening the backbone of our water system and building storage that will last for generations.

You can play a part too. Learn more about safely storing water for an emergency so you can imagine a day without water but it will never be your reality.

• See HOW to store your emergency H2O.

• See WHERE to store your emergency H2O.

• See WHAT types of containers to use for your emergency H2O.

• Using your own containers to store water for an emergency? Here’s how:

Happy 104th Birthday, Benson Bubbler!

By Jaymee Cuti Add a Comment

Portland is known for many things—coffee and bikes, beer and food carts. One of the most charming Portland legacies is the Benson Bubbler, the four-bowled drinking fountains found almost exclusively in Portland’s bustling downtown. Two origin stories compete for popularity. The first claims that Simon Benson, a local lumber baron, wanted to provide his workers with water as an alternative to beer during their lunch breaks. The second suggests that Benson once saw a little girl crying for lack of water on the Fourth of July, which lead him to make the donation of 20 bubblers to the City of Portland. Either way, Benson’s donation left us with one of Portland’s most iconic features.

As water becomes an increasingly sparse resource in some parts of the world, it is easy to forget how lucky we Portlanders are to have the Bull Run watershed to provide us with clean, fresh water and a secondary and high-quality source at the Columbia South Shore Well Field. Not only do the Benson Bubblers provide us with the opportunity to enjoy our water, but they also help to refresh our water, boosting the water quality. Next time you take a sip from one of Portland’s Benson Bubblers, take a moment to stop and appreciate Portland’s water plentiful supply and commitment as responsible stewards of our precious natural resource.

Bubbler Facts:

  • While Portland is the one of only two cities in the United States to boast Benson Bubblers, each of Portland’s sister cities Sapporo, Japan; Guadalajara, Mexico; and Suzhou, China were gifted one as well.
  • There are 51 true Benson Bubblers in Portland, meaning bubblers with four bowls.
  • Through several conservation efforts, Benson Bubblers use less than a tenth of one percent of the daily water demand.
  • In 2000, the Portland Water Bureau installed timers which shut off fountains during low use periods. The Benson Bubblers are on from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

For more information, visit


TRAFFIC ADVISORY 09/08/16: Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project Breaks Ground, Temporary Impacts to Travel & Parking

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

Downloadable file: Traffic Advisory
Downloadable file: Brochure

The Portland Water Bureau and contractor Hoffman Construction Company have begun an eight-year capital improvement project to update the Washington Park reservoir site.

The project complies with federal and state mandates, seismically strengthens key water infrastructure on Portland’s west side, and helps ensure a healthy, resilient, and secure water system. 

The project will span from 2016 to 2024. During the first two years, major earthwork will occur along with the construction of shoring walls and the new underground reservoir. This will trigger the most significant impacts to TriMet bus service, traffic, transportation, and parking in the park.

Park users are encouraged to move safely around the park. Please watch for detours and signage and follow direction from flaggers. The public should not follow construction vehicles or buses as they may enter restricted zones. All construction-related traffic impacts are subject to change.

To avoid delays, plan ahead and visit Explore Washington Park and TriMet for transit options in the park. Please consider taking public transit and the Explore Washington Park Free Shuttle. The shuttle runs weekends only now through October 31 and will resume service in the spring.

From September 12, 2016 through March 2018, the following traffic restrictions will be in place:


  • SW Sacajawea Blvd. will be completely closed to all vehicle and bike traffic and pedestrian use from the intersection of SW Sacajawea Blvd./SW Rose Park Rd./SW Wright Rd. to SW Park Pl.
  • SW Sherwood Blvd. will be closed to all vehicles from SW Kingston Ave. to the Soccer Field.
  • SW Sherwood Blvd. will be closed to all vehicles, bikes, and pedestrians from the Soccer Field to SW Sacajawea Blvd.


  • The sidewalk of SW Sherwood Blvd. will remain open for pedestrian use and bike traffic from SW Kingston Ave. to the Soccer Field.


  • Traffic flow will be reversed on SW Lewis Clark Way. One-way traffic will travel SW Lewis Clark Way and exit the park on SW Park Place.


  • Starting Sept. 16, 2016, a designated paved-path separate from vehicles will be available on SW Lewis Clark Way. Pedestrians and cyclists can use the path to travel both in and out of the park on SW Lewis Clark Way. Cyclists are required to walk and not ride bicycles on the path.
  • Prior to Sept. 16, pedestrians are encouraged to use the stairs by the Lewis and Clark Memorial Column or be escorted around SW Lewis Clark Way.


  • Pedestrians and cyclists can enter and exit the Madison Court Trail on SW Madison St. and SW Sacajawea Blvd. The trail will close intermittently; watch for signage.
  • The Mac Trail will remain open. Pedestrians are cautioned to watch for trucks where the trail intersects with SW Sherwood Blvd. and SW Sacajawea Blvd.


  • All parking spaces closed on SW Sacajawea Blvd., SW Sherwood Blvd., and SW Lewis Clark Way.


  • Line 63 - Washington Park/Arlington Heights will be detoured and stops 6177, 4346 and 4343 will be closed. Check for updates.

During this stage of construction:

  • Three park entrances will be available: W Burnside Rd. to SW Tichner Dr.; SW Fairview Blvd. to SW Knights Blvd.; and SW Canyon Rd. to SW Knights Blvd.
  • Four park exits will be available: SW Tichner Dr. to W Burnside Rd.; SW Fairview Blvd. to SW Knights Blvd.; SW Lewis Clark Way to SW Park Pl.; and SW Knights Blvd. to SW Canyon Rd.

The project entails constructing a new 12.4-million gallon, seismically reinforced below ground reservoir in the same footprint of existing Reservoir 3 (upper) with a reflecting pool/water feature on top. The new reservoir will preserve the historic drinking water function provided by the original reservoirs and be engineered to withstand ongoing landslide encroachment and potentially catastrophic effects of a major earthquake.

When complete and online, the new reservoir will supply water to Portland’s west side and serve more than 360,000 people, including all downtown businesses and residents, 20 schools, three hospital complexes, more than 60 parks, and the Oregon Zoo.

Existing Reservoir 4 (lower) will be disconnected from the public drinking water system and a lowland wildlife habitat area, bioswale, and reflecting pool will be constructed in the basin.

For additional project information and updates, contact 503-823-7030, e-mail Lindsay.Wochnick@portlandoregon,gov, or visit

Fall 2016 Customer Newsletter

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

Fall 2016 Customer Newsletter

Each quarter, the Bureau of Environmental Services and the Portland Water Bureau offer important information on rebates, payment options, drinking water quality, and water efficiency tips in printed inserts that accompany your sewer-stormwater-water bill. 

In the Fall 2016 statement, customers will find a newsletter highlighting how we’re preparing for the “Big One,” three simple actions you can take today to ready your family for an emergency, and details on a long-term project to seismically strengthen key water infrastructure on Portland’s west side.

Take a look inside your bill or access the Customer Newsletter online.