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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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Join Our Team: Senior Risk Specialist

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 Job Available at the Water Bureau

Senior Risk Specialist** Full Time $5,496.00 - $7,330.00 Monthly 9/11/15 4:30 PM Pacific Time

**This recruitment will remain open until 75 applications have been received or until the posted closing date, September 11, 2015, whichever comes first.

Water Quality Trivia

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

The temperature of water in our distribution system fluctuates seasonally. What impacts can we expect to see with a mild winter and spring followed by early summer temperatures in the 90’s?

A.   Customers may notice warmer water from their cold water faucets.

B.   Shifts in algae populations may occur in the open reservoirs, which could affect the taste/odor of our drinking water.

C.   Minimal impacts will be seen as underground water mains act as a refrigerator.  Water temperature fluctuates only by a few degrees throughout the year.

D.   As water temperature increases, chlorine disinfectant levels can decrease.

Answer: A, B, and D can all occur with seasonal temperature fluctuations. 

This year, these impacts are seen sooner due to the mild winter and spring and 90 degree temperatures in June.  The Portland Water Bureau monitors algae in the system to ensure that no harmful species are present. Additionally, chlorine levels are adjusted seasonally to maintain adequate disinfectant levels to protect public health.

Questions or Concerns About Water Quality?
Contact the Water Bureau’s Water Line at 503-823-7525.

Summer Water Saving Tools Available

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

Free outdoor devices

It’s been a long, dry summer so far and Portland lawns are looking more like golden fields than lush green carpets.

To keep your plants alive and use water wisely, the Portland Water Bureau has free hose nozzles, watering gauges, and water-wise plant guides.

  • Hose Nozzle: Avoid running a hose unchecked when watering by hand.
  • Watering Gages: Measure how much water is being put down on the grass when using a sprinkler. Sign up for the weekly watering number that tells you how much to water based on the weather.
  • Water-Efficiency Plant Guide: While it is not a good time to plant new landscapes, this full-color guide is a great tool for planning. Make smart plant choices for your landscape here in the Willamette Valley.

Get your Hands on Free Water-Saving Tools

  • Visit the Water Bureau Customer Service Center at 1120 SW 5th Avenue, Portland, Oregon.
  • E-mail
  • Call 503-823-7439

Flushing: Using Water Wisely to Maintain Portland’s Water Quality

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment


Customers may encounter a running hydrant or valve with a flushing sign or a Portland Water Bureau barrier and naturally think it is just a waste of water.

In fact, crews are flushing the system, an important tool to maintain water quality, especially in the summer when warmer water can lead to water quality issues.

This summer much of the Northwest is experiencing drier than normal conditions with some areas facing water shortages. However, Portland is not facing water shortages, and is fortunate in that we have two sources of water to meet Portland’s needs. We are constantly monitoring our water resources and balancing maintenance activities with available supply.

Water crews routinely monitor flushes to use the right amount of water needed to maintain water quality, and deliver clean, cold, constant water to our customers.

The Portland Water Bureau uses two techniques to clean and maintain the drinking water system: spot flushing and unidirectional flushing.

  • Spot flushing is used to flush lower quality water from the system and bring in fresh higher quality water. This includes drinking water that is discolored due to a disturbance in the system such as construction or other hydrant activity. Spot flushing is also used to flush out dead-ends or low-use areas in the system. Portland Water Bureau crews open fire hydrants to flush this water out of the system, monitoring the flush to know when water quality has improved and ensuring water is used wisely.
  • Unidirectional flushing is not used in response to a specific water quality issue but instead is used as routine maintenance to prevent problems from arising. The goal of unidirectional flushing is to scour and clean the insides of the water delivery pipes.  Cleaning the pipes removes sediment that builds up in the pipes. This reduces the potential for water quality problems. Unidirectional flushing 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.

For more information, visit the following Portland Water Bureau webpages:

A BIG Success Story

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

BIG program logoThe Portland Water Bureau’s Business, Industry, and Government (BIG) Water Efficiency Program offers information, resources, and assistance to industrial, commercial, and institutional customers of the Water Bureau.

BIG staff work alongside customers to create a water-use history report, identify potential savings, and provide an on-site evaluation of water using devices based on specific needs. Here’s one success story from the BIG Program. 

IRC Aluminum & Stainless
Located in North Portland, IRC Aluminum & Stainless is a non‐ferrous metal distributor that provides water‐jet cutting services to the northwest. Water‐jet cutting is a unique technology that can cut a variety of materials with no mechanical stress or heat effect. High pressure pumps used to create the water jets rely on large quantities of continuous “single pass” cooling water that discharges to the sewer after one use.

Cooling is typically accomplished using chillers and/or cooling towers but IRC was in need of a customized system to meet the requirements of their unique operation.

IRC's water jet at work.In September 2012, the Water Bureau's Water Conservation Program Coordinator met with IRC personnel to help improve the company’s water efficiency and reduce environmental impacts.

Working together, they developed an innovative design that combined the reuse of pump cooling water together with “free cooling” to the atmosphere using outdoor storage tanks.

The system now reuses cooling water in various cutting operation areas, providing more savings than a chiller system alone. The resulting design reduced cooling water demand by approximately 1.6 million gallons per year or 41 percent of the total use.

IRC’s high capital cost to install the system was reduced by an incentive offered by the Water Bureau.

To read more BIG Water Efficiency Program success stories, visit our Commercial Water Efficiency website.