GENERAL INFORMATION: 503-823-7404
1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97204
As a result of the recent freezing temperatures in the Portland metro area, Portland Water Bureau crews have been busy repairing frozen water meters and broken water pipes to homes and businesses.
Ty Kovatch, the Water Bureau’s Maintenance & Construction Director, said that since the freezing temperatures began late last week, crews have responded to more than 500 calls for service, including a high number of residential plumbing issues requiring our crews to provide emergency shut-offs at the residential meter.
Customers can notify the Water Bureau using the 24/7 emergency hotline at 503-823-4874. If you observe a broken water main, have no water service or have other urgent water problems, contact the Water Bureau immediately.
During the lengthy period of below freezing temperatures, many calls for service are being received after hours.
To ensure all reported water issues were quickly assessed, a team of dedicated professionals staffed the Water Bureau Dispatch center throughout the day and night and worked diligently to deploy crews immediately out to water emergencies.
Water Main Break in NE Portland
"Crews have been working over the weekend and after hours,” reports Kovatch. “In fact, over the weekend there were close to 400 calls, including six (6) main breaks, four (4) of which occurred on Friday night alone and a high volume of residential plumbing issues which we help with by shutting off water at the meter.”
As the weather begins to warm and frozen pipes begin to thaw, the Water Bureau expects an increase in the number of calls for service.
“Freezing temperatures like we have had over the past week generate a lot of challenges throughout our large system as well as a lot of challenges for homeowners that we respond to,” said Kovatch, “We also expect additional issues to appear as the temperature warms back up, and we will continue our enhanced response until weather conditions return to normal.”
If customers experience a broken pipe, contact the Water Bureau’s 24/7 Emergency Hotline and ask for assistance in shutting off the main water supply to the house at the street.
The Water Bureau reminds customers that the best way to handle any sort of water emergency in your home including broken pipes is to be prepared before it happens. Taking a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the plumbing system in your home and note the location of all shut off valves are important steps in preventing a plumbing emergency from turning into a disaster. During periods with temperatures below freezing, it is also a good idea to put insulated covers around your hose bibs, and leave water faucets running at a trickle during evening hours and when no one is home using the water.
NOTIFICATION: The Budget Advisory Committee (BAC) Meeting on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM has been cancelled. Please direct any questions to Tim Hall, Public Information Manager, at 503-823-6926 or 503-381-0056.
Just over this past weekend, Portland Water Bureau crews responded to over 200 calls from customers concerned about no water service. Crews determined that most of these calls where related to frozen pipes inside the home.
The Portland Water Bureau wants to remind our customers that they can themselves take steps to reduce the possibility of frozen pipes:
The Portland Water Bureau is dedicated to providing Portland with a safe and reliable water supply. Maintenance & Construction crews are on standby, ready to respond 24-hours a day, seven days a week to repair broken water mains and address water emergencies.
Customers that experience urgent water problems should call the Portland Water Bureau’s 24/7 emergency hotline at 503-823-4874.
Monday, December 9, 2013
The Portland Building, including the 1st floor Portland Water Bureau Customer Service Walk-In Center, will be closed until 8:00 am on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 due to a power outage.
Until power is restored, you are invited to pay your bill in the following ways:
Customers that experience urgent water problems should call the Portland Water Bureau's 24/7 emergency hotline at 503-823-4874.
Please check back on the Water Bureau's website for updates. We apologize for the inconvenience.
The Portland Water Bureau’s Maintenance & Construction crews are called out at all hours day and night to repair broken water mains, an average 200 times a year. Most of these repairs involve cast iron and galvanized pipes. Out of more than 2,100 miles of the city’s water pipe network, there remains about 1,350 miles of cast iron pipe of a variety of ages in the water system.
100-Year Old Broken Cast Iron Pipe
In Portland, cast iron water mains tend to break during the colder times of year, or what our crews call “Main Break Season.” Colder water can make pipes more brittle. Adding cold air temperatures at or below freezing can cause the ground above a pipe to freeze thereby increasing external stress on a pipe.
Temperature is just one factor. The age of the pipe is another. However, Portland has pipes that are over 100-years old that have not experienced a break. Still, the Water Bureau replaces about five miles of old and vulnerable pipes each year with more durable steel and ductile iron water mains.
Other factors can have an effect on aging pipe. This includes soil conditions, pipe corrosion and ground movement. Disturbances around a water main from work on underground utilities like sewer and natural gas lines as well as road construction can cause an old main to weaken over time and later break.
Our Maintenance & Construction crews say it usually takes about a week following a cold snap before they start seeing main breaks.
Crews excavate site to get to pipe
On October 29th, there was a major main break of a 24-inch diameter, 100-year old pipe on W Burnside Street at SW 4th Avenue. Since November 27th, our crews have repaired five main breaks, which is the highest concentration the bureau has seen this year. On December 1st, our crews responded to a break on NE 92nd Avenue, near NE Hill Way. It was an 8-inch diameter cast iron pipe that had been in the ground just 62 years.
Some main breaks cause major street repairs
When the Portland Water Bureau is repairing a main break, please remember we appreciate the patience and understanding of customers and motorists affected by the temporary water service shutdown and street closure.
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