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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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Survey Says

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

On November 5, 2015, City of Portland Auditor Mary Hull Caballero released the 2015 Community Survey.

The survey reports results from the City Auditor’s annual survey of Portlanders, conducted to gather public perceptions of City services. The report, which marks the 25th year the survey has been conducted, includes survey details specific to each of Portland’s seven neighborhood areas and citywide data. It compares current survey responses with results from 2011 to show five-year trends.

Below are survey findings related to the Portland Water Bureau:

  • 72 percent of residents rated water services as “good” or “very good” – a slight increase from the 2011 survey (71 percent).
  • The Water Bureau ranked fifth highest out of 11 core city services ratings.
  • Of the 3,268 survey responses, 87 percent rated the tap water provided by the City as Very Good or Good.


 Access the entire 2015 Community Survey online.

The Weather is Wild, Your Water is Safe to Drink

By Jaymee Cuti Add a Comment

Heavy rains, like the record-breaking rainfall Portland experienced on Monday, left some Portlanders with questions about their drinking water. The storm and flooding does not affect the drinking water system. The Bureau of Environmental Services manages the City of Portland’s sewer and stormwater system. Your drinking water, provided by Portland Water Bureau, is carried in different pipes that are under constant pressure. This keeps any material from entering our drinking water system.

During very heavy rain storms, some combined sewage can overflow to the Willamette River and Columbia Slough. Water from the Willamette River and Columbia Slough is not your drinking water. Portland’s primary water source is the rain-fed Bull Run Watershed, located 26 miles east of Portland. The water is treated with chorine and ammonia to disinfect the water of any potential natural contaminants. However, Portland’s drinking water is not filtered, and large storms can result in an increase in sediment in the Bull Run. When this happens, Portland also has a secondary supply, groundwater from the Columbia South Shore Wellfield, to provide safe drinking water to our customers.

Since Portland is an unfiltered drinking water system, at times you may notice a slight tint to your drinking water. This color is not related to heavy rainfalls within the Portland Metro area but can occur seasonally or if there is work being done in your area

If you have questions about your drinking water, contact the Drinking Water Line at 503-823-7525 or (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday) or visit our Water Quality at Home web page. For emergencies, call our hotline at 503-823-4874, 24 hours, 7 days a week.

Washington Park Reservoir Project: Land Use Hearings Officer Approves Conditional Use, Environmental, and Tree Reviews Application

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

In order to comply with federal and state mandates, and ensure a healthy, resilient, and secure water system, the Portland Water Bureau is moving forward with a project to update the Washington Park reservoir site.

On December 4, 2015, the City of Portland Land Use Hearings Officer approved the Portland Water Bureau’s Type III Conditional Use, Environmental, and Tree Reviews application for the Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project.

Previously, a public hearing was held on November 2, 2015, where the Hearings Officer reviewed the Type III application and considered city staff recommendations and public testimony.  The Hearings Officer then decided to hold the record open for the submittal of new evidence, responses, and the Water Bureau’s final argument related to the Type III application.

The record closed November 16, 2015. The Hearings Officer’s decision is final unless appealed to City Council. If it is appealed, City Council will hold a public hearing in late January or February 2016.

Project Details
The Water Bureau’s Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project proposes to build a new below-ground reservoir in the same general footprint as the existing upper Reservoir 3, with a reflecting pool on top. The lower Reservoir 4 basin and the slope west of it are needed to provide landslide abatement; the slope will be restored to its pre-reservoir condition.

Reservoir 4 will be disconnected from the public drinking water system and a lowland habitat area/bioswale and a reflecting pool are also proposed in the Reservoir 4 basin. Work will primarily be within the Historic District.

The project addresses major reservoir issues, including recurrent landslide damage, compliance with federal law, seismic vulnerability, and deterioration of the 120 year-old structures.

The project includes three Land Use Reviews (LUR). Detailed information, including dates, decisions, and next steps, are included in the chart to the right.

1. Type IV Demolition Review application: The application proposed the removal of the Weir Building (screen house), portions of lower Reservoir 4’s basin, and upper Reservoir 3’s basin in Washington Park.

2. Type III Historic Review application: The application describes historic preservation and rehabilitation actions and proposes construction of a covered reservoir, reflecting pools, lowland habitat area/bioswale, and walkways.     

3.  Type III Conditional Use/ Environmental/Tree Reviews application: The application addresses development impacts to the site, park, and surrounding neighborhoods, tree protection, natural-area restoration, and construction and traffic management for the project. 

A courtesy copy of the Type III Conditional Use/ Environmental/Tree Reviews application submitted to the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) is posted on the Water Bureau’s project webpage at Note that BDS maintains the official case record, which tracks updates and revisions over time.

Before work permits are issued or construction begins, all land use review applications must be approved.

The applications are a result of a robust public involvement process that included multiple public open houses and nine Community Sounding Board meetings that guided design for the required visible features of the Washington Park project.

Additional Information & Contacts
For detailed project information, visit the project webpage or contact Water Bureau Public Information staff at 503-823-3028 or by e-mail

Visit the Bureau of Development Services’ website or call 503-823-7300 for more information on the land use review application process.

Join Our Team: Environmental Technician II & Water Quality Inspector II

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

If you're interested in joining an award-winning public utility where employees thrive on the pride of delivering a life-essential product with world class customer service, the Portland Water Bureau might be just the place for you.

The Water Bureau is a recognized leader in the utility industry. We've achieved this success by investing in the very best people and empowering them to find new and better ways to meet our customer's needs.

The Water Bureau currently employs approximately 560 people. All current job postings with the City of Portland are posted online, and updated weekly. We are an equal opportunity employer that values diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Current Opportunities at the Water Bureau

Position Emp. Type Salary Closing Date
Environmental Technician II Full Time $26.64 - $33.99 Hourly Tue. 12/08/15 4:30 PM Pacific Time
Water Quality Inspector II Full Time $26.05 - $33.67 Hourly Mon. 12/21/15 4:30 PM Pacific Time

Learn More about the Water Bureau 

For more information regarding jobs at the Water Bureau, contact the Water Administrative Manager at 503-823-1956 or by e-mail

Water Pipe Insurance Policies not Affiliated with Portland Water Bureau

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

Private home insurance companies are again conducting sales mailings offering water service line insurance in Portland.

The Portland Water Bureau wants to remind our customers that such offers are not associated with the City of Portland, nor does the Portland Water Bureau have any connection with such companies, or any other such insurance carrier. 

These private companies send letters to Portland residents offering a repair plan for the water service line extending from the resident’s house to the water distribution pipeline, which usually runs from the water meter in front of the house.

These letters state that the line extending from the house to the water meter is the homeowner’s responsibility. This means that if the pipeline experiences a crack or break, the resident is responsible for all associated costs.

While this is in fact true, some sales literature from such insurance companies has confused some residents, making them feel that they are required to have an insurance policy that is separate from their homeowner’s policy to cover any water utility line damage. This is not true.

Here are the facts that you need to know:

  • There are no laws that require you to insure the water line.
  • It is completely up to you to decide whether you want or need this type of coverage, and through which company you want to buy such a policy.
  • If you receive a phone call from a sales person employed by a private company and they introduce themselves as having a relationship with the “water department,” this is false information. The Water Bureau is a public utility, and does not contract/affiliate with any insurance providers.

Before signing an annual insurance plan that protects your water service line, the Water Bureau urges caution. Some plans may be legitimate offers, but make sure to examine the fine print. For example, letters received by customers in 2012 noted, in small print, that the private companies’ insurance plan will not pay for residential plumbing services if the water line fails due to “acts of God,” frozen pipes, faulty construction or maintenance, or “normal wear and tear.”

If you are interested in water service line insurance, the Water Bureau encourages you to consider the following information:

  • Review your homeowner's policy and determine if water line coverage is already provided. If you do have water line coverage, make sure to contact your insurance company and ask how this coverage would work in conjunction with an annual insurance plan.
  • Determine if you have prior issues with your water line pipes or if there have been any issues in your neighborhood. This will help you in deciding the necessity of purchasing an annual insurance plan.
  • Compare several private insurance policies to make sure you find the policy the best suits your needs.
  • Read the fine print in the annual insurance plan carefully.
  • Check the company standing with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Business Review and see their rating and any past government actions or advertising concerns BBB has found.

If you are ever suspicious of anything related to your water service, please call the Water Bureau Customer Service hotline at 503-823-7770.