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Portland Water Bureau

From forest to faucet, we deliver the best drinking water in the world.

GENERAL INFORMATION: 503-823-7404

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

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Save the Date: The History of Clean Drinking Water on OPB on Wednesday, October 15

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Clean drinking water is something that many of us take for granted. In the U.S., we are fortunate to be able to turn on the tap and have clean, potable water any time of the day. However, it hasn’t always been this way.

In 1895, drinking water began flowing from the Bull Run watershed, leading to a substantial decrease in waterborne disease outbreaks. In 1929, the Portland Water Bureau began adding chlorine as a disinfectant, practically eliminating waterborne disease outbreaks. Worldwide, the use of chlorine to treat water has been so effective it is considered as one of the greatest public health innovations in modern history. 

Portland’s story is not unique. In the late-1800s many cities around the U.S., and especially the new cities being built in the West, had to develop new systems to keep sewage and drinking water separate. In an upcoming series on Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) titled “How We Got to Now With Steven Johnson,” the first episode “Clean” covers the history of clean drinking water and what mark its importance has left on our world. 

Check out the two minute sneak-peak of “Clean” below. The full episode airs on OPB TV on Wednesday, October 15 at 9:00 pm.

Make it a double feature and watch the OPB Oregon Experience episode “Bull Run that is available online to watch anytime. This Oregon Experience episode covers the history of how the Bull Run River and watershed became and has continued to be Portland’s main drinking water source for the past 120 years. 

Fast facts about Portland’s drinking water treatment process: 

* Portland is one of six large water systems in the U.S. that does not filter its drinking water. Portland meets stringent requirements for remaining an unfiltered water system by having very high quality source water, restricting access to the watershed, and having a watershed protection program. 

* Based on the high quality of water from  the Bull Run, and the efforts in place to protect the watershed, Portland  is not required to treat for Cryptosporidium, a disease-causing microorganism. Portland is the only system in the U.S. with this type of approval.

*  Water treatment is a three step process:

  1. Chlorine is added to initially disinfect the water.
  2. Ammonia is added to form chloramines. Chloramines stays in water longer than chlorine. Using chloramines ensures that disinfection remains adequate throughout the entire distribution system.
  3. Sodium hydroxide is added to increase the pH of the water to reduce corrosion of lead and copper from plumbing systems.

Want more information? Visit the Portland Water Bureau’s Water System webpage to learn more. 

Sarah Messier
Water Quality 

Traffic Impacts in SW Hillsdale Neighborhood Next Week

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A Portland Water Bureau water main installation project will impact traffic on several streets in the Southwest Hills neighborhood next week.

Approximately 300 feet of the left westbound lane of SW Capitol Highway, just east of the intersection of SW Capitol Highway and SW Terwilliger Boulevard, will be closed beginning Monday, October 13, from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The closure is scheduled to end on Friday October 17, at 3:00 p.m. Pedestrians using the alternate walking trail who wish to cross SW Capitol Highway going south will be guided to the crosswalk by a flagger.

The two northbound lanes of SW Terwilliger Boulevard just north of SW Capitol Highway will remain open but will be reconfigured for construction to occur at the corner.

A short section of SW Burlingame Avenue will be closed to all but local traffic on Monday, October 13. A contractor for the Water Bureau will begin the road restoration work on SW Burlingame Avenue on Monday. The temporary patch over the pipe trench will be removed and permanent asphalt installed. The work is expected to take one day. SW Burlingame Avenue, between SW Chestnut Street and SW Burlingame Terrace, will be open to local traffic only. No pedestrian access will be allowed during the street restoration work.

Motorists are urged to use alternate routes, remember to drive slowly, and exercise caution when traveling in the construction area.

Project information can be found online at www.portlandoregon.gov/water/swcarolina 

Terry Black
Public Outreach

Water Bureau FY 2015-16 Budget Development Now Underway

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The Portland Water Bureau has started work on the development of its Fiscal Year (FY) 2015-16 budget.


As the steward of the city’s 118-year old water system, the bureau works to develop and recommend to the Portland City Council and our customers a budget that allows it to continue to meet its mission of providing clean, safe, and affordable drinking water to our customers.

A Budget Advisory Committee (BAC), comprised of representatives of key stakeholders that include members of the community and labor representatives, will work alongside Water Bureau Administrator David Shaff and bureau directors and managers to develop the annual budget per City of Portland guidelines. The Portland Utility Review Board (PURB) and the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) will also participate in the process.

Together, the BAC members and bureau staff review, discuss, deliberate and work to develop a consensus budget. Their challenge is to propose a budget that balances the infrastructure and service needs of the city’s aging and complex water system, complies with state and federal regulations relating to clean water, and is understanding of the economic issues facing both residential and business customers throughout the Portland metropolitan area.

The BAC will begin meeting in October 2014. All meetings will be open to the public, and there is an opportunity for public comment.

For more information on the budget development process, upcoming meetings, and how you can provide your feedback to the Water Bureau, visit www.portlandoregon.gov/water/budget15-16.

Public Information

Climate Change Preparation Strategy Adopted by Portland City Council

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UPDATE: The Portland City Council adopted the Climate Change Preparation Strategy, Risk and Vulnerabilities Assessment on Wednesday, October 8. Learn more.

The City of Portland and Multnomah County’s Climate Change Preparation Strategy, and associated Risk and Vulnerabilities Assessment, is being considered today for adoption as a City resolution by the Portland City Council. The Portland Water Bureau collaborated with the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and other city agencies in developing the preparation strategy.

The Water Bureau is committed to providing its customers with a long-term, reliable supply of clean water. For more than a decade the bureau has been working to understand the most likely climate change impacts for Portland’s drinking water system. You can find a summary of these anticipated impacts on the bureau’s web page.

The Water Bureau continues to work with Pacific Northwest climate scientists and other drinking water utilities throughout the nation to monitor the developing discipline of climate forecasting and plan accordingly for Portland’s drinking water system.

Kavita Heyn
Resource Protection and Planning

Main Access Road to Powell Butte Nature Park Closed October 7 - 8

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On Tuesday, October 7 and Wednesday, October 8 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the main entry road into Powell Butte Nature Park will be closed to all traffic in order to allow crews to complete the final paving of the roadway.  


When the street restoration work is complete on Thursday, October 9, the main road on Southeast 162nd Avenue and SE Powell Boulevard will reopen for park use.

Alternate parking is available at the Vivian Pump Station parking lot at 14424 SE Center Street and the Gates parking lot at 13799 SE Holgate Boulevard.

Park users can still access the park using the Anderegg Trail that travels adjacent to the main park road from Southeast 162nd Avenue. For additional trail information, access a trail map here. Please use caution and observe any posted trail closure signs.

Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information