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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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Portland Water Bureau to Begin Annual Groundwater Maintenance Run

By Jaymee Cuti Add a Comment

Starting today, July 25, the Portland Water Bureau will begin blending a small portion of water from its Columbia South Shore Well Field with water from the Bull Run Watershed as an annual maintenance operation.

Public notification is not required but the Portland Water Bureau informs the media and sensitive water users, as a practice, when it activates groundwater and when it has significant operational changes. The media and sensitive water users will again be notified when the Portland Water Bureau returns to 100 percent Bull Run water.

As a result of careful planning, Portland is fortunate to have access to two excellent water sources that allow us to be prepared to meet the range of supply and demand conditions that occur in the Portland water system.

The Columbia South Shore Well Field is a high-quality water supply that meets or surpasses all federal and state drinking water regulations.

The city’s groundwater supply is a complex system composed of electric pumps, chemical feed systems, electronic controls and other equipment that must be operated regularly to identify maintenance needs. By doing this operation routinely, the bureau will ensure the reliability of the system when needed, either in an emergency or to meet seasonal supply demands.

The average contribution of groundwater to the system will be approximately 15 percent of the total daily water demand. The groundwater maintenance run is scheduled to end in mid-August but may be extended as necessary. Due to the low percentage of groundwater being blended with the Bull Run Source, the bureau does not expect there to be a large change in water chemistry. It takes up to 10 days depending on location and overall water demand for the blended water to make its way through the distribution system to homes and businesses.

Customers with questions are encouraged to call the Water Line at 503-823-7525.

Conduit 3 Hydroelectric Project Receives Excellence Award

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

The Portland Water Bureau Conduit 3 Hydroelectric Project has received an Excellence in Engineering Award from the Pacific Northwest Section of the American Water Works Association (PNWS-AWWA).

The award celebrates outstanding drinking water related engineering projects which have led to overall cost savings to the water using community, provided enhanced safety to the public and/or water resources, resulted in extended asset service life, or integrated a cutting edge technology in the design.

The project, involving the Portland Water Bureau, Lucid Energy, Murray, Smith & Associates, Inc. (MSA), and SSC Construction, included installing a LucidPipe™ Power System in the Portland Water Bureau’s pipeline beneath the street at SE 147th Avenue and SE Powell Boulevard. The LucidPipe™ Power System uses the flow of water inside the Water Bureau’s pipeline to spin four 42” turbines that produce electricity.

The system is installed in 50-feet of Portland water pipes, in sections where the water flows downward due to gravity. There are four sections of pipe, and each has a generator on top and a 42-inch turbine that spins as the water flows inside. (Photo credit: Sherri Kaven)

The Portland installation is the first project in the United States to secure a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for renewable energy produced by in-pipe hydropower in a municipal water pipeline.

The turbines were installed by replacing a section of existing pipe with Lucid’s pipe, and bolting that new pipe to the existing water system. (Photo credit: Sherri Kaven)

The project not only supports the Water Bureau’s objective of reducing the cost of delivering safe, clean drinking water to Portlanders, but also supports the City of Portland’s Climate Action Plan goals and its plan to identify and collect new sources of revenue.

Our Water Supply

By Jaymee Cuti Add a Comment

Each year, the Portland Water Bureau develops a Seasonal Water Supply Augmentation and Contingency Plan also known as the Summer Supply Plan. This plan evaluates the availability of water from the Bull Run and groundwater sources, projected weather forecasts, and water demands to guide management of the drinking water system. Between careful management and the region’s strong conservation efforts, the Portland Water Bureau is prepared to meet the range of potential supply and demand conditions that could occur in the Portland water system this season.

The Bull Run water system is designed to capture and store rainfall from the rainy season to provide adequate water supply during the dry summer months. The approximately 9.9 billion gallons stored in the two Bull Run reservoirs along with summer stream flows is sufficient to meet water demand during most years. During drier years, the Columbia South Shore Well Field groundwater source can be used to augment the Bull Run supply. This secondary source of reliable, high quality water can be used to make up any supply deficits. Because you can never be too safe, the City has also identified additional contingency sources and strategies to address even the most severe conditions.

Drawdown occurs each year when Portland Water Bureau customers use more water from our reservoirs than streams carry into them. This happens every year until the fall rains return and refill the reservoirs. Drawdown typically occurs around July 4. This year, drawdown began on June 30.

The Portland Water Bureau is prepared to meet drinking water needs of our customers. The Bull Run is a low-elevation watershed that gets its water primarily from rain, not snow. The watershed gets approximately 135 inches of rain each year, about 3-4 times more rain than we get here in town.

The Columbia South Shore Well Field is Portland’s secondary water supply. The well field has 26 wells in three aquifers that are capable of producing nearly 100 million gallons per day. Each year the Portland Water Bureau performs a groundwater maintenance operation during drawdown to ensure the wellfield is operational in the event it is needed for emergency supply. This operation is planned to begin on July 25 and may last until mid-August.

With an average daily summer water demand of 126 million gallons, it can take careful planning to meet the needs of our customers.

The Water Bureau’s best partner in ensuring that we have more than enough water for years to come is you! From 2004 to 2014, Portland’s population grew by 18 percent—but the city’s total water use decreased by 13 percent. This water savings is partly a result of how Portlanders have embraced water-saving technology and changed behaviors to make the most of each drop.

The Water Bureau has an efficiency program, where you can learn more about using water wisely all year round with information about native plants in your garden and low-flow devices for your showers, faucet and toilets. You can learn more at

The Portland Water Bureau carefully monitors water levels, weather forecasts, and water use patterns to ensure adequate, clean water for all of our customers.  As it does every year, the Portland Water Bureau is carefully watching our water supply through the summer. For updates and more information, visit

Photo by Roman Johnston

July is Smart Irrigation Month - Get Smarter with a Free Irrigation Check-up

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

Get Smarter with a Free Irrigation Check-up

Are you wondering if your irrigation system is working as well as it could be? If you have an automatic irrigation system, and are a Portland Water Bureau customer, you may be eligible for a free landscape irrigation check-up.

The Portland Water Bureau has partnered with an EPA WaterSense professional to offer custom irrigation assessments which include:

  • A walk through of your irrigation system
  • A review of your irrigation schedule
  • An easy to read set of recommendations to improve your watering.

Contact the Portland Water Bureau Water Efficiency Program at 503-823-4527 or to determine if you are eligible for a free irrigation check-up.

Project Spotlight: Water Providers Collaborate on Washington County Supply Line Projects

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

A blog repost from the Regional Water Providers Consortium's website 

West side supply lineThree water providers - Tualatin Valley Water District (TVWD), City of Tualatin, and the Portland Water Bureau - worked together on two projects on the Washington County Supply Line (WCSL) which delivers 60 million gallons of water from the Portland Water Bureau to west side wholesale customers.

First, TVWD and the City of Tualatin partnered together on an emergency pump station for the supply line. The trailer-mounted portable pumps can now be used to redirect up to 10-million gallons of water a day via the supply line from TVWD’s Wolf Creek service area to TVWD’s Metzger service area and the City of Tualatin in the unlikely event water supply from Portland is disrupted due to an emergency or natural disaster.

Second, the Portland Water Bureau took advantage of the construction window and upgraded the meter that measures the amount of water that they sell to a portion of TVWD’s service area.


By working together, the water providers were able to develop an important back-up water supply using existing infrastructure, improve resiliency, and achieve cost savings by coordinating construction projects.