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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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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.

Water Bureau Flushing Water Mains in North Portland Neighborhoods

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

To clean and maintain the drinking water system, the Water Bureau uses Unidirectional Flushing (UDF) to scour and clean the insides of the water delivery pipes. 

The Portland Water Bureau is currently conducting UDF flushing of the water mains in the St Johns and Cathedral neighborhoods in north Portland.

Flushing is occurring between N. Iris Street on the north, to Bradford Street on the south, from St Louis Avenue on the east, to Roberts Street on the west. CLICK HERE to view a map of the flushing area.

Flushing in St Johns is expected to be complete in September 2016.

Using Water Wisely this Summer
Flushing water from hydrants is an important and necessary practice to maintain water quality in the distribution system. This practice is used to flush discolored water from the pipes, keep water fresh in low use areas and dead-ends, and to clean inside pipes. This process is regularly monitored by Water Bureau staff to make sure the water is used wisely while maintaining water quality.

What you can Expect to See
Unidirectional flushing will have minimal impacts to customers. If you see hydrant flushing crews working in the area, please drive carefully and treat them like any other road construction crew.

During flushing, residents in the immediate vicinity of flushing may notice temporarily discolored water and lower than normal water pressure. The discoloration does not pose a health risk. However, you may wish to avoid using tap water or running the washing machine or dishwasher until your water runs clear. After flushing, if you still experience discolored water, turn on each cold water faucet in your house and allow them to run for several minutes or until the water is clear.

Flushing usually occurs Monday through Friday, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

How Does UDF Work?
UDF works by forcing water in the pipes to flow at much higher speeds than normal. Flushing crews first open and close valves to isolate sections of pipe, and then the water and any sediments in the pipes are flushed out through an open fire hydrant. Residents may observe water gushing from an open hydrant.

Improving and Maintaining High-Quality Drinking Water
Drinking water systems, especially unfiltered systems like Portland, need to routinely clean the network of pipes to improve water quality. Over time, very fine sediment and organic matter from the Bull Run settle out of the water and accumulate in the bottom of the pipes. While the sediments are generally harmless, they can make the disinfectant in the water less effective. Additionally, sudden changes in the flow of water can disturb these sediments resulting in discolored water.

Call the Portland Water Bureau Water Line from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm at 503‐823‐7525 with any questions or to report ongoing water quality problems. For more information, updates, and maps, visit

Night Work Scheduled for SW Macadam Ave

By Teresa Black Add a Comment

Construction crews will be restoring SW Macadam Avenue near the intersection of SW Nevada Street Monday through Thursday nights July 18-21st. Zupan’s Markets and all area businesses will remain open normal hours during construction. To minimize traffic disruptions, work will begin each night at 8 p.m. and be completed by 5 a.m. the next morning.

During construction, SW Macadam Avenue will remain open in both directions but traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction and some turning movements could be restricted. Travelers are urged to use alternate routes and are reminded to drive slowly, exercise caution, and follow the direction of flaggers when traveling in and around the construction area. As with any construction project, safety is our first priority. Please obey flaggers and all construction signs.

 Crews will do their best to position equipment to reduce noise in the neighborhood. For more information about nighttime work and noise, visit the City of Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement Noise Control Program webpage, call the hotline at 503-823-7350, or e-mail