GENERAL INFORMATION: 503-823-7404
1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97204
This day marks the 50-year anniversary of what is known as the1964 Christmas flood, which caused significant damage throughout Oregon.
In Portland, the lower deck of the Steel Bridge was underwater and had also been hit by a log raft consisting of around 1,000 logs. The impact of the raft severely damaged the Hawthorne Bridge, closing it for a year. At 12 feet above flood stage, the flooding of the Willamette River at Portland in 1964 was second only to the 1948 flood that wiped out Vanport. At its peak, the water was at the top of downtown Portland's seawall.
The 1964 Christmas event caused significant damage to the water system infrastructure in the Bull Run Watershed. Conduit 2 was broken and conduit 4 was pulled apart at the joints. Only conduit 3 remained in service while repairs were made, but it provided enough water to avoid shortages. The United States Geological Service and the Water Bureau operate a stream gauge on the Bull Run River 2 miles downstream from Bull Run Reservoir 2 and the water system intake. The maximum flow at this station was 24,800 cubic feet per second on December 22, 1964. By comparison, the same gauge this past week averaged 715 cubic feet per second.
While the Christmas event impacted water operations, it was actually the heavy rains later in January 1965 that caused the worst damage to the water system. A significant landslide occurred at a site along the route of the conduits at the Portland General Electric power plant along the Bull Run River. The slide damaged the county road, and conduit 2 had to be taken out of service while emergency repairs were made. There was so much water spilling over Dam 2 that the plunge pool below was torn apart by the velocity and quantity of the water.
The US Army Corps of Engineers has established a multi-agency, flood campaign website. Watch for links to videos, debunked flood myths, economic impact information and more.
Clackamas County has produced an oral history video on the impacts to the residents in the Sandy River basin, in which the Bull Run Watershed is located.
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:
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 Portland Water Bureau encourages you to consider the following information:
If you are ever suspicious of anything related to your water service, please call the Water Bureau Customer Service hotline at 503-823-7770.
The Walk-In Center, located on the first floor of the Portland Building at 1120 SW 5th Avenue, will reopen on Friday, December 26 and Friday, January 2 at 8 a.m., respectively.
For your convenience you may pay your bill online, or pay by Visa or MasterCard by calling our automated payment system at 503-823-7770 and pressing 1. You may also leave a payment in the night box located outside the front door at 1120 SW 5th Avenue Portland, OR 97204.
We apologize for any inconvenience.
The Portland Water Bureau works year-round to deliver high quality drinking water to its customers. One of the regular maintenance tasks that occurs throughout the city, neighborhood by neighborhood, is unidirectional flushing or UDF.
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. Unidirectional flushing gets those sediments out by forcing water in the pipes to flow at much higher speeds than normal. Flushing crews temporarily close valves to isolate sections of pipe creating one-way flow and increased velocity, then the water and any sediments in the pipes are flushed out through an open fire hydrant.
The UDF crew has finished flushing in the northwest heights and parts of Forest Park neighborhoods. The area served was roughly from NW Lambert St south to Cornell Rd and Skyline Blvd/Ramsey west to Mill Pond Rd. More than 15 miles of 4, 6 and 8 inch water mains were flushed in under four months by a two person crew.
So far this year, more than 43 miles of water mains have been flushed in southwest and northwest Portland neighborhoods.
Click on the map image to view a downloadable pdf format of the map.
In order to comply with federal and state mandates, and ensure a healthy, resilient, and secure water system, the Water Bureau is moving forward with a project to update the Washington Park reservoir site.
On December 15, 2014, the Water Bureau submitted the first of two Land Use Review applications for the proposed Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project. In January 2015, BDS will issue a notice of public hearing and open the public comment period.
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 to the west 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.
Proposed improvements to Reservoir 3 (left) and Reservoir 4 (right)
Land Use Application #1
The initial Land Use application (Type IV, heard and decided by City Council following a public hearing) proposes the removal of the Weir Building (screen house), portions of lower Reservoir 4’s basin, and upper Reservoir 3’s basin. The gatehouses, dams, and other historic features will be protected and restored.
Land Use Application Package
In spring 2015, a second Land Use application package with two components will be submitted for construction of a new covered reservoir, reflecting pools, lowland habitat area/bioswale, walkways, and historic preservation and rehabilitation actions. The features, which are described in the first Type IV land use application, will offer the public enhanced access to the new surface water features and classically-designed gatehouses, dams, and related structures. These two reviews will be Type III. The Historic Resource Review will be heard and decided by the Historic Landmarks Commission following a public hearing. The Conditional Use and Environmental Review will be heard and decided by a Hearings Officer following a public hearing.
Before construction begins and permits can be issued for the work, the 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 (CSB) meetings that guided design for the required visible features of a new reservoir in Washington Park.
CSB members included representatives from:
Portland’s preservation organizations, including the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Historic Preservation League of Oregon, also participated in the public involvement process to help determine the future of the historic site.
The project addresses four major reservoir issues:
A copy of the land use applications submitted to BDS will be posted on the project webpage at www.portlandoregon.gov/water/wpreservoirs/LUR1. The Bureau of Development Services maintains the official application record, which tracks updates and revisions over time.
Additional Information & Contacts