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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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NW Portland Reservoir Project Complete

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The 1.3-million gallon Forest Park Low Reservoir underground drinking water reservoir, located on City property off NW Skyline Boulevard near NW Hawkins Boulevard, was connected to the live water system and became fully operational in August 2014. 

Clearing and grubbing site Soil nails

Preliminary work to construct the reservoir and adjacent 1,408 square-foot pump station began in October 2012. In just three months, with oversight from the Portland Water Bureau, Contractor Emery & Sons Construction, Inc. had cleared and grubbed the site, built a maintenance access road, and excavated the site for the reservoir and pump station. To temporarily stabilize the soil slope during construction, 320 soil nails were drilled and then grouted directly into the side of the hill. 

50-ft walls Interior columns Steel cable wrap

By the end of 2013, the 73-foot diameter reservoir had taken shape. Built approximately 41 feet into the ground, the reservoir’s 50-foot walls and concrete floor were reinforced with rebar, and the roof supported by nine concrete interior columns. The outside of the reservoir was strengthened with a tensioned wrap of steel cable and shotcrete applications. 

Roof  November 2013 aerial photo of reservoir

In early 2014, the intricate system of piping underwent pressure testing to ensure the integrity of the pipes and joints within the pipeline.

Backfilling around reservoir Build and backfill around pump house

Concurrently, the walls and floor of the pump station were constructed and then crews worked to backfill around the rectangular-shaped pump station with gravel. 

May 2014 aerial photo of reservoir

By this summer, the pipeline running from the reservoir was connected to the water main under NW Skyline Boulevard. Crews continued backfilling the reservoir while it was filling with water. The pump station build was completed, and crews repaved about 150-feet of roadway at the NW Hawkins and NW Skyline Boulevards intersection. 

July 2014 aerial photo of reservoir

The reservoir soon disappeared from site, after being covered and compacted with layers of soil and growing native grasses. The project was fully completed in August 2014.

The Forest Park Low Reservoir will provide additional storage and serve customers in the Northwest Hills service areas. Alongside the Mt. Calvary and Greenleaf Tanks, the Forest Park Low Reservoir will strengthen the overall supply system in the Northwest Hills, offering more operational flexibility and a better ability to meet peak day and fire flow demands now and into the future.

Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information

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

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It's fall, which means our good weather for the year is ending, and we are starting to see the rains return. This means, as it does every year, that Portland customers might notice color changes in their drinking water.

Fall in the Bull Run watershedThis 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 supply system, it seasonally takes on a tint from organic materials that are washed into the streams and the reservoirs in the watershed. 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 an ordinary cup of tea. There is nothing harmful to your health from these tannins. The color affects only the appearance of the water, and 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.

Kate Tanner
Water Quality

Rain Contributes 5.3 Billion Gallons to Bull Run Reservoirs

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Full pool spring 2013

Portland’s Bull Run reservoirs have started to refill.

Substantial rains in the watershed started refill of the reservoirs on October 23, adding 1.8 billion gallons in just two days. As of this morning, October 27, there were 5.3 billion gallons, or about 53 percent of usable drinking water storage in the Bull Run reservoirs. The total usable water supply of the Bull Run reservoirs are 9.9 billion gallons.

The Bull Run reservoirs can hold up to 17 billion gallons.

Tim Hall
Public Information 

Free Workshop About Portland’s Groundwater Supply

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Groundwater 101

Join the Portland Water Bureau and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council for Groundwater 101, a FREE workshop all about groundwater.

When: Saturday, November 15, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Where: NECA-IBEW Training Center (16021 NE Airport Way)

With a mix of hands-on and classroom-style teaching, the workshop invites participants to learn about local geology and hydrology, the vital role groundwater plays in our drinking water system, and what we can all do to protect this important resource. After the workshop, participants can take an optional half-hour guided tour of the Portland Water Bureau groundwater facility.

The workshop is appropriate for adults and high-school students. Light refreshments will be provided.

Online pre-registration is required and the class size is limited to 35 participants. Don’t wait to sign up!

For more about groundwater and groundwater-related events, please visit the Water Bureau’s groundwater webpage and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council’s event page. For questions about Groundwater 101, please call 503-281-1132 or e-mail

Doug Wise
Groundwater Protection

Water Bureau to Meet with Citizens Committee on Washington Park Reservoir Project

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As the project to make necessary changes to the Washington Park reservoirs reaches the 60 percent design phase, the Water Bureau will meet with the Community Sounding Board to further discuss the construction and traffic control plans, and to share with them further refinements of the visible features designs. 

The Sounding Board is comprised of representatives of Southwest Portland neighborhood associations, park users, and Portland Parks & Recreation staff. The group has been meeting since early July 2014 to develop concepts for the features on top of the underground 15 million gallon reservoir and the overflow-dechlorination tanks in the footprint of the existing open reservoirs.

The meeting – which is open to the public -- will be on Wednesday October 29, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Zion Lutheran Church at 1015 SW 18th Avenue. The church is located at the Southwest corner of SW 18th Avenue and SW Salmon Street. There is limited parking behind the church, but plenty of street parking nearby.  The church is easily accessible from the Kings Hill MAX stop and bus route #15.

For additional information on the Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project, visit

Tim Hall
Public Information