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Portland Water Bureau

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1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97204

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UPDATED -- NEWS RELEASE 04/16/14: Portland Reservoir Off-Line After Man Cited for Urinating in Water Supply

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April 17, 2014
1:30 p.m

CORRECTION: The three men were excluded from Mt. Tabor Park for trespassing and one man for public urination. 

April 16, 2014
5:00 p.m.


Video surveillance courtesy of the Portland Water Bureau.
Access video directly on YouTube.

Downloadable file: Official News Release 

The Portland Water Bureau provides the highest quality water, customer service and stewardship of our critical natural resource.

Just after 1 a.m. Wednesday, April 16, 2014, Portland Water Bureau security staff observed on camera three men at Mt. Tabor Reservoir Number 5 in Southeast Portland. A 19-year old man was filmed urinating through the iron fence into the reservoir. Minutes later, the two other men, ages 18 and 19, attempted to scale the fence, with one successfully entering the reservoir.

These actions forced the Water Bureau to immediately take the 50-million gallon Mt. Tabor Reservoir 5 off-line and test for possible contamination.

A Portland Police Bureau officer and Portland Water Bureau ranger quickly responded. The three men were excluded from Mt. Tabor Park for trespassing and one man for public urination. Police will review the surveillance video to determine whether the men will be charged with a crime.

David Shaff, Portland Water Bureau Administrator, reported that about 38-million gallons of drinking water will be discarded and replaced with fresh water from the Bull Run water supply.

Water quality test samples from the reservoir were taken early this morning, with test results due back by Thursday, April 17.

Shaff acknowledged the public health risk is slight, but says that the bureau will not serve purposely tainted drinking water to the public.

"Our customers have an expectation that their water is not deliberately contaminated. We have the ability to meet that expectation while minimizing public health concerns," said Shaff. "We will continue to provide our customers with safe, clean and cold Bull Run water."

Video surveillance and reports written by the Portland Police Bureau and the Portland Water Bureau will be submitted to the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office for possible criminal charges.

In 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that all finished drinking water be stored in covered reservoirs. The City of Portland is in the process of complying with this federal mandate and Reservoir 5 on Mt. Tabor is slated to be permanently disconnected by December 31, 2015.

Please check back here as more information becomes available.

Public Information

Snowpocalypse 2014: No Match for Our Dispatchers, Crews, & Urgent Responders

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In early February, the Portland metro area experienced a winter storm with rounds of snow, ice and freezing rain that caused power outages and shutdown the city, roads and highways for nearly a week. While residents were urged to stay inside, Portland Water Bureau (PWB) dispatchers, Maintenance & Construction (M&C) crews, staff, and urgent responders addressed customer and system issues around the clock.

Over a five-day period beginning on Friday, February 7th, Water Bureau dispatchers received, processed, and sent crews and responders out to more than 1000 calls for service.

M&C crews cut out and replaced a 16-foot section of damaged pipe at SE 20th Avenue at SE Powell Boulevard. 
M&C crews cut out and replaced a 16-foot section of damaged pipe at SE 20th Avenue at SE Powell Boulevard.

During this extreme weather event, nine main breaks occurred, with five alone happening on Sunday, February 9th. Two of those breaks were significant ruptures that required pipe replacement on a 20-inch diameter main on SE 20th Avenue at SE Powell Boulevard and a 12-inch diameter main just down the street on SE 22nd Avenue and SE Lafayette Street. The Powell and Lafayette breaks required the replacement of many feet of pipe. 

The 83-year old 20-inch cast iron pipe that ruptured at the Powell main break. 
The 83-year old 20-inch cast iron pipe that ruptured at the Powell main break.

As crews rushed to repair main breaks occurring around the city, urgent responders kept pace, responding to calls for help with frozen plumbing on the residential side, emergency shut-offs for customers who had leaks in their homes due to frozen pipes, and several hydrants hit by vehicles.  As temperatures began to warm, thawing broken pipes began revealing themselves, creating new challenges that required a sustained response. 

Water Bureau crews’ hard work didn’t go unnoticed. Water Bureau Administrator David Shaff and Commissioner Nick Fish toured several of the water main break sites, praising and thanking the hard working crews.

In a citywide email, Commissioner Fish wrote, “On behalf of the City Council, I’d like to thank all of our dedicated City employees for their outstanding work during the winter storm. During four challenging days, everyone rolled up their sleeves and took care of business.” 

Commissioner Nick Fish on-scene at a water main break talking to the media. 
Commissioner Nick Fish on-scene at a water main break talking to the media.

Fish then went onto thank and express his appreciation specifically to Water Bureau employees, stating, “PWB employees assisted residents with frozen pipes and swiftly responded to water main breaks.” 

M&C crew at the Powell main break. 
M&C crew at the Powell main break.

With a week of inclement weather that will surely go down in Portland history, Water Bureau staff and crews rose to the challenge yet again.  Their well-prepared emergency response, outstanding customer service, and personal sacrifices were greatly appreciated and a testament to the pride they take in their work.

Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information

Spring Start-up Tips for Your Irrigation System

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It’s been a long, hard winter for your yard. While plants go dormant to cope with the colder weather, your sprinkler system doesn’t always fare as well. Cracks in the pipes can lead to costly leaks, and broken sprinkler heads can waste water and money. Now is the perfect time to spruce up your irrigation system so you don’t waste water and money this summer! 

Before you ramp up your watering this spring, look over your irrigation system by remembering these four simple tips: inspect, connect, direct, and select:

  • Inspect. Check your system for clogged, broken or missing sprinkler heads. If you’re not the do-it-yourself type, look for an irrigation professional certified through a WaterSense labeled program. View a list of list of WaterSense partners in the Portland area.
  • Connect.  Examine points where the sprinkler heads connect to pipes/hoses. If water pools in your landscape or you have large wet areas, you could have a leak in your system. A leak about as small as the tip of a ballpoint pen (or 1/32nd of an inch) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month.
  • Direct. Are you watering the driveway, house, or sidewalk instead of your yard? Redirect sprinklers to apply water only to the landscape.
  • Select. An improperly scheduled irrigation controller can waste a lot of water and money. Update your system’s schedule with the seasons, or select a WaterSense labeled controller to take the guesswork out of scheduling. 

The Portland Water Bureau efficiency program offers many helpful resources to customers wanting to water their landscapes wisely this summer:

Sabrina Litton
Resource Protection

City Rate Review Meeting Follow-Up Now Available

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On March 19, 2014, the City of Portland invited members of the community to the first ever City Utility Rate Review meeting.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss drinking water and sewer-storm water rates. Mayor Charlie Hales, City Council members, and management staff from both the Portland Water Bureau and the Bureau of Environmental Services were on hand to answer questions and discuss the combined 4.92 percent rate increase proposed by the City’s two utility bureaus.

Portlanders in attendance were invited to provide feedback and pose questions to the Council. At the conclusion of the hearing, city staff committed to providing follow-up answers by Wednesday, April 9, 2014.

Responses to those questions can be accessed, read, and printed here.


Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information

Children’s Clean Water Festival - Teaching the Next Generation

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Jason Lee Elementary students learn about salmon life cycles. Photo courtesy of Jeff Sandberg. 
Jason Lee Elementary students learn about salmon life cycles. Photo courtesy of Jeff Sandberg.

Each year the Portland Water Bureau co-sponsors the Children’s Clean Water Festival, a one-day environmental education event for 4th and 5th grade students from around the Portland Metro area. This year, the 21st annual Children's Clean Water Festival was held on March 11th at the University of Portland with more than 1,500 children attending. 

The goal of the festival was to teach children that they are capable of having real, long-lasting, positive impacts on water resources, and to equip them with the information they need to do that in a fun and engaging way.

Kids explore a well drilling rig. 
Kids explore a well drilling rig.

Every 25 minutes, class groups moved from one event to another according to their personalized schedule. Classroom presenters, stage shows and exhibitors set up in the morning and classes rotated through their presentations throughout the day.

Staff from the Water Bureau acted as class guides, teaching classes on topics such as groundwater, how to build a water main, water tasting, and coordinating the "Think Like a Fish" booth - a high energy, interactive exhibit that taught kids about the flow, temperature and habitat needs for salmon and steelhead in rivers. 

Jason Lee Elementary students learn about stormwater run off. Photo courtesy of Jeff Sandberg. 
Jason Lee Elementary students learn about stormwater run off. Photo courtesy of Jeff Sandberg.

The Water Efficiency Group in Resource Protection and Planning coordinate the Water Bureau’s participation in the event every year. Other sponsors include the Bureau of Land Management, City of Hillsboro, City of Tigard, Clean Water Services, Oak Lodge Sanitary District, Regional Water Providers Consortium, Rockwood Water People’s Utility District, and the Tualatin Valley Water District.

Terry Black
Public Information

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