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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 Awarded Two Excellence in Communication Awards

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

Clean, Cold, Constant brochure The Portland Water Bureau won two 2015 Excellence in Communications awards from the Pacific Northwest Section of the American Water Works Association (PNWS-AWWA). 

The awards were presented during a ceremony at the PNWS-AWWA annual conference in Bellevue, Washington on April 30.

Each year, water utilities from across the region submit their brochures, reports, websites, and other communication tools to the PNWS Communications Committee for award consideration. This year the Communications Committee also asked college students to review the materials.

The Water Bureau’s Clean, Cold, Constant brochure was developed to convey to Portland’s new residents basic, yet crucial, information about their water system. The award review committee found the brochure to be so good that it won the Best Print Media for a large utility and Best in Show.

Water Efficiency Program Coordinator Sarah Santner developed and wrote the brochure and Graphic Designer III Sarah Fine designed and illustrated it.  Congratulations to this creative team for their much deserved awards!

“The brochure does an impressive job of packaging information on water sources, system, quality, service charges, and efficiency,” says Water Bureau Administrator David Shaff. “The eye catching creative designs and easy-to-read text grabs the attention of the reader.”

To get a copy of the award-winning brochure, contact 503-823-4527 or e-mail

NEWS RELEASE 06/11/15: Portland Water Bureau to Run Groundwater Supply

By Jaymee Cuti Add a Comment

Beginning Thursday, June 11, the Portland Water Bureau will begin using its groundwater wells in the Columbia South Shore Well Field to ensure adequate supplies of water to its customers while work on supply conduits from Bull Run is being completed.

While public notification is not required, the Water Bureau informs the media and sensitive water users, as a practice, when it activates groundwater. One change that customers may notice is a slight increase in hardness. The media and sensitive water users will again be notified when it returns to 100 percent Bull Run water.

The Columbia South Shore Well Field is a high-quality water supply that meets or surpasses all federal and state drinking water regulations. Portland has access to two excellent water sources that can be used to meet water demands throughout the year.

As part of system improvements, maintenance work is being conducted on the Water Bureau’s three supply conduits. Work to strengthen the interties between the conduits will soon begin on the last and largest conduit. This scheduled maintenance coincides with an increase in water demand. As a result, groundwater from the Columbia South Shore Well field will be used to continue supplying clean, safe and constant drinking water to customers.

“In Portland, we’re fortunate to have two high quality sources of water,” said Portland Water Bureau Administrator David Shaff. "As other parts of the nation are struggling to meet their water supply needs, it's comforting that we can turn to our Columbia South Shore Well Field to meet our customers’ needs."

The groundwater system is estimated to contribute approximately 8% of supply for up to four weeks during the scheduled improvement work. While the work is being performed, the bureau will take the opportunity to perform its annual maintenance operation of the groundwater system, replacing the maintenance run scheduled for next month.

Depending on location, it will take between one and eight days for groundwater to move through the distribution system and reach customers. For more information about Portland’s drinking water quality, call the Water Line at 503-823-7525.

Jaymee Cuti
Public Information

June Water Quality Trivia

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

June Water Quality Trivia

Answer: B

Approximately 25,000 customer samples have been analyzed for lead in water through the Water Bureau’s testing program. While all known sources of lead have been removed from the Water Bureau’s distribution system, customers can be exposed to lead through their home plumbing.  

To learn more visit To request a free lead in water test kit, visit or call 503-988-4000.

DATE CHANGE - Council Final Decision on Proposed Washington Park Reservoir Project Type IV Land Use Review Application Rescheduled for June 25

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 in southwest Portland.

On May 13, the Portland City Council gave unanimous tentative approval on the Portland Water Bureau’s Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project Type IV Land Use Review (LUR) application.

The City Council will make a final decision on the Type IV Land Use Review (LUR) application on Thursday, June 25 at 2 p.m. in City Hall Council Chambers at 1221 SW 4th Avenue.

The final decision was rescheduled from Wednesday, June 10.

Members of the public are welcome to attend. However, no public testimony will be heard as the public comment and testimony period closed on May 7. Opportunity for public input included the Historic Landmarks Commission meeting in March 2015 and the City Council hearing in April 2015.

The initial Type IV LUR application proposes the removal of the Weir Building (screen house), portions of lower Reservoir 4’s basin, and upper Reservoir 3’s basin in Washington Park. The gatehouses, dams, and other historic features will be protected and restored.

Proposed Project
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 will be disconnected from the public drinking water system and a lowland habitat area/bioswale and a reflecting pool will be constructed in the basin. Much of the Reservoir 4 basin and the slope to the west are needed to provide landslide abatement; the slope will be restored to its pre-reservoir condition.

The new below-ground reservoir in the place of Reservoir 3 will be constructed so that it is outside of the moving edge of the landslide, which will help protect it from damage.

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


  • In December 2014, the Water Bureau submitted the first (Type IV) of three LUR applications to the City of Portland Bureau of Development Services (BDS) for the proposed Washington Park Reservoir Project.
  • On February 9, BDS deemed the Type IV LUR application complete, issued a Request for Response, and officially opened the public comment period and set the dates for the Historic Landmarks Commission meeting and the first City Council Hearing.
  • On March 30, a public meeting was held before the Historic Landmarks Commission to review the Type IV LUR application. During the public meeting, BDS presented the Staff Report and Recommendation, the Water Bureau discussed the project, and members of the public offered testimony. The Commission voted 3 to 1 in support of the initial LUR application and forwarded their recommendation to the City Council.
  • On April 23, the first of three City Council hearings was held. During the hearing, members of the public had the opportunity to offer testimony. At the hearing’s conclusion, the City Council agreed to allow the record to remain open through May 7.
  • On May 13, City Council held a second hearing for the purpose of deliberations on the application. The record had previously been closed, and no testimony was accepted. After deliberating, Mayor Charlie Hales and the City Council gave unanimous tentative approval to the Type IV LUR application.  
  • The next step will be a final decision by the Mayor and Council at a hearing on Thursday, June 25 (rescheduled from Wednesday, June 10).

Type III LUR Application Package
In spring 2015, the Water Bureau will submit a second LUR application package that includes two Type III applications: 

The LUR package will propose the construction of a new covered reservoir, reflecting pools, lowland habitat area/bioswale, walkways, and historic preservation and rehabilitation actions. The second LUR application process will also include public comment periods and public hearings to ensure public notification and the opportunity to comment before a final land use decision is rendered.

Before work permits are issued or construction begins, all three LUR applications must be approved.

The LUR applications are a result of a robust public involvement process that included multiple public open houses, nine Community Sounding Board meetings that guided design for the required visible features of a new reservoir in Washington Park, five public meetings before the Historic Landmarks Commission, and three City Council hearings.

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.

Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information

Join Us and Celebrate Nature in the City at the Explorando el Columbia Slough Festival

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

Join the Columbia Slough Watershed Council, Portland Water Bureau, Bureau of Environmental Services, and many other sponsors on Saturday, June 13 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. to celebrate nature and water in the city at the annual Explorando el Columbia Slough festival. 

This free bilingual family event will be held at Whitaker Ponds Nature Park at 7040 NE 47th Avenue. Activities will be offered in both Spanish and English for all ages and will include: 

  • Guided canoe trips
  • Rock climbing
  • Live music
  • Folk dancing
  • Storytelling
  • Arts and crafts
  • Face painting 
  • Authentic Latin American food
  • A visit from Timber Joey

The first 300 visitors will receive a free Explorando t-shirt. No registration is necessary.

For more information, visit the Slough News webpage.

Doug Wise
Groundwater Protection Program