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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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Reminder: Yearly Testing for Single-Family Home Backflow Assemblies Starts Now!

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

Does your home have a lawn and garden irrigation system? How about a radiant heating system or boiler? These systems are required to have a backflow assembly to prevent contamination of the drinking water system. The backflow assembly is located between your house and the drinking water supply. They allow water to enter your irrigation system or home while at the same time preventing water that is in your system from flowing back into the drinking water supply. Once a year homeowners are required to test the backflow assemblies connected to their system. Backflow assemblies are essential in keeping you, your family, and Portland’s drinking water safe.

Why do I have to test my backflow assembly every year?
Testing is required every year by the State of Oregon Health Authority to ensure that your assembly is functioning properly. Every year in April and May, the Portland Water Bureau sends reminder letters to single-family homes to test their backflow assemblies. The perfect time to test is between April and June since this is after freezing weather has passed, which can damage your backflow assembly, and before the heavy watering season begins.

Who can test my backflow assembly?
Homeowners need to hire a private company to test their backflow assembly. The Oregon Health Authority provides a list of state certified backflow assembly testers on their website. Some of these companies specialize in specifically testing backflow assemblies, and some are landscape companies that provide that service. Either type of company can perform the testing you need. The market is fairly competitive, so homeowners can expect to pay between $35 and $45 per test.

What happens during a test?
The tester will test your assemblies and record the assembly serial number and test results. Your tester may or may not use stickers that the Portland Water Bureau provides as a courtesy with your reminder letter. If they don’t use them, your test is still valid, and you may just discard the stickers. When finished, the tester will then give you a copy of the report, keep a copy for themselves, and send a copy to the Portland Water Bureau. When the Portland Water Bureau Backflow Records department receives the test report, your account is updated with the results and is marked as up-to-date.

Annual testing is necessary to let the State and Portland Water Bureau know that your backflow assembly is in compliance every year, and assures you that you are keeping your family’s drinking water safe.

Questions about your backflow assembly or backflow assembly testing?
Contact Portland Water Bureau Backflow Records at 503-823-3256.

Dreaming of Summer? Start Planning a Water-Wise Garden Now!

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment


This past summer was long and dry and your garden and lawn may have suffered. Early spring is the perfect time to take stock of which plants did well, and which didn’t and to make choices that will prepare the garden for next summer.  Here are some tips for how to use your early spring downtime to create a more resilient and beautiful garden:

Research water-wise plants.
Many native plants and adapted plants are well suited to our Willamette Valley climate.  An adapted plant is one that is originally from a comparable climate or is adapted to tolerate similar conditions. They can handle the long dry summers and eight to nine months of “liquid sunshine.” By choosing plants that are right for the conditions in your yard, you can cut down on watering and maintenance costs. Check out these great guides to Water-Efficient Plants for the Willamette Valley and Native Plants for Willamette Valley Yards.  

Make a planting plan. 
Does your yard have full sun, shade or a combination? Is your soil type similar throughout your space or do you have a mix?  By grouping plants with similar drainage, sunlight and water needs you’ll have happier plants and save water. If you want some inspiration or help making a plan, check out these upcoming free naturescaping workshops through East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation DistrictPortland Nursery and Livingscape also offer lots of free gardening educational opportunities.  

Schedule a weekend to mulch.
Mulching your garden is one of the best ways to retain soil moisture to create a resilient and lush garden. Mulching is often easier to do in the spring before perennials have come up. Look at your calendar now and make a plan to mulch. Did you know that some places can even blow the mulch into your garden? This can be expensive, but it is an easy, no mess way to get the mulch in the garden.  Learn more about the benefits of mulch in this OSU Extension article.

Public Encouraged to Sign Up to Receive Urgent Safety Messages

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

The City of Portland and Multnomah County are reminding all residents to visit (PublicAlerts) to sign up to receive urgent safety information.

PublicAlerts is able to send messages to landline phones, mobile phones, and email addresses. Alerts are only issued when the public needs to take action to remain safe, such as staying inside, evacuating, or boiling water.

Today (3/30) at 1 p.m., Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM) Director Carmen Merlo and Multnomah County Department of County Human Services (DCHS) Director Liesl Wendt will be available to demonstrate the system and answer questions.

WHAT: PublicAlerts demonstration and media availability
WHEN: Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at 1-2 p.m.
WHERE: Portland Emergency Coordination Center (SE 99th Avenue and SE Powell Boulevard); please contact Dan Douthit at (503) 793-1650 for parking instructions

PublicAlerts was first launched in 2011. The system used by Portland and Multnomah County was recently improved and is now able to issue safety information in 10 languages other than English, including Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Laotian, Arabic, Romanian, Somali and Ukrainian. Residents must sign up to receive non-English messages.

When signing up, residents are also able to indicate if they may have additional needs in an emergency -- such as mobility issues or hearing or visual impairment -- or difficulty communicating with public safety responders.

Visit today to sign up to receive future safety messages.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY 03/29/16: SW Nevada Street Closed to All but Local Traffic Wednesday - Friday, March 30 - April 1

By Teresa Black Add a Comment

A Portland Water Bureau water main installation project will close NW Nevada Street from SW Macadam Boulevard to SW Virginia Street to all but local traffic 24 hours a day from Wednesday, March 30 through Friday, April 1. Residents on NW Nevada Street will be able to access their homes from SW Virginia. Work hours are from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

During construction, northbound SW Macadam Avenue traffic will not be allowed to turn left onto SW Nevada Street. The north driveway access to Macadam Village is also closed. Shoppers can enter Macadam Village by the driveway on the south side of Zupan’s Market. All businesses in Macadam Village will remain open.

Travelers are urged to use alternate routes and are reminded to drive slowly, exercise caution, and follow traffic control signs.

Keep Your Water Meter Accessible & Clear of Debris

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

Meter readers from the Portland Water Bureau read your water meter monthly or quarterly to collect your water consumption for billing purposes. If the area around your water meter is clear, our meter readers can quickly and accurately collect your meter reading information on the first visit to your property. 

Every day, a meter reader will visit more than 500 meters, and keeping the area clean and clear helps them do their job efficiently. Unfortunately, if your meter is obstructed by objects such as cars, trailers, trash cans and recycling bins, landscape bark or gravel, a meter reader will have to return to your property to read your meter. You will first receive a friendly reminder in the mail; if your meter continues to be inaccessible, you may be charged a fee if staff needs to return to re-read or if we need to hire someone to remove the obstruction.

By keeping your meter box clear, you can avoid this charge. Additionally, a clear box makes it easy to ensure that the lid fits properly, is safe and can be quickly turned off in an emergency.

Here are some tips to maintain clear access to your water meter:

Trees, Bushes and Plantings

  • Trim bushes, trees and grass that block the way or cover the meter.
  • Minimize plants in the area which meter readers must travel through to get to your meter.
  • Remove all branches hanging lower than six feet over the meter box.


  • Keep pets away from the path that leads to your meter.
  • If you have a guard dog for security, please let us know so that we can make sure that our meter readers and other utility personnel are aware of this. We may ask that you arrange to confine the dog during the day that your meter will be read.

Please also ensure your house address is clearly displayed on your residence. This also assists emergency personnel who may need to find your home in a hurry.

Click here for additional information and resources or contact Customer Service at 503-823-7770. Thank you in advance for your assistance and cooperation.