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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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Preparing for Our Customer’s Summer 2016 Water Needs

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

The Bull Run water system is designed to capture and store rainfall from the rainy season to provide an adequate water supply during the dry summer months. The city has an additional, high quality water source in the Columbia South Shore Well Field which augments summer supply. This groundwater source is the state's second largest water supply after Bull Run.

The Portland Water Bureau is prepared once again to meet our customer’s water needs, even through another hot and dry summer.

Since 1993, the Water Bureau has developed annual contingency plans for summer season supply. Each spring an interdisciplinary team evaluates a range of variables related to water supply and demand. These include available water supplies, past and projected water demand, the impacts of regional conservation programs, public health protection, water quality, and native fish protection to name a few.

The plan is used to guide operational strategies to ensure the Portland Water Bureau continues to provide high-quality drinking water to our customers while meeting all of our system’s needs. 

Looking Back, Moving Forward
The Water Bureau's 2015 Summer Supply summary can be viewed on our website along with tips to use our water wisely. The 2016 Summer Supply Plan is currently being developed and will be posted online as well.

Powell Butte Nature Park Visitor Center Now Open!

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

Visitor Center at Powell Butte Nature Park

In mid-May 2016, the Powell Butte Nature Park Visitor Center officially opened its doors to the public.

The new Visitor Center is now open for public use Wednesdays through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. No reservation is needed.

The facility features a solar roof, full-wall mural of Portland, interactive display panels, pipe exhibits including a 90’ walk-through pipe, a paved interpretive trail highlighting the butte’s diverse habitat types, and displays by local tribes. The facility also includes restrooms that will be open during park hours.

The Visitor Center replaces the “little red shed” which served as the Nature Park’s maintenance building and restroom for many years.

The Visitor Center, along with the caretaker’s house and maintenance building, were required under the Portland Water Bureau’s Conditional Use Master Plan to build the second of two 50-million gallon underground reservoirs at Powell Butte. The first 50-million gallon underground reservoir became operational in 1981 and the second in 2014.

For additional information, visit www.portlandoregon.gov/water/powellbutte.  

Keeping the Visitor Center Safe
If you see someone in the act of tampering with, removing, or destroying park property, please contact Portland Police at 9-1-1 and Water Bureau Security at 503-823-6084.

Our Infrastructure and the Triple Bottom Line

By Jaymee Cuti Add a Comment

Infrastructure Week is a time to appreciate and learn more about the infrastructure all around us. At the Portland Water Bureau, we often refer to ourselves as the invisible utility, as most of our impressive infrastructure such as Dams 1 and 2 are protected within the Bull Run Watershed or buried beneath our feet.

This week, we are pulling back the curtain on our  infrastructure that keeps our system safe and reliable.

One important factor in maintaining our infrastructure is planning. The Portland Water Bureau has a strong, decade-long asset management program. We use the wisdom of leading business practices, which has resulted in national recognition. Leaders in our Asset Management group chair the National Asset Management Committee for the American Water Works Association, an association of 50,000 water utilities. The Portland Water Bureau is routinely called upon to share our practices in risk management, business cases and asset management plans.

Asset management involves many business practices to manage assets and meet service level goals, in a cost effective way. These practices help inform us when we need to invest money to maintain, repair, or replace our assets. We take a sophisticated approach to consider operations and maintenance costs throughout the life of the asset. The most advanced approach is considering the triple bottom line analysis of financial, social and environmental costs and benefits.

A part of asset management is understanding the purpose of the asset. We identify our goals (service levels) and consider how the asset supports that goal. We set goals, measure our performance and communicate our results. The Portland Water Bureau is currently proposing a customer survey to ask for feedback about some of our key service levels, such as call holding time, water outages, seismic resilience, online services and automated meters.

Risk management is a huge part of asset management. Certain assets have a very high consequence if they fail. If that asset has a high likelihood that it will fail, we say that asset is a high risk, and we prioritize actions towards risk mitigation. Some of our water pipes that cross under freeways or major rail lines are considered our highest risks. Why? Because a failure of those pipes could take out those roads or lines, compromising safety and resulting in costly interruption of traffic.

We look for opportunities to improve. We continue to make progress on our goals and we look forward to learning from our customers’ priorities. With wise investments and careful planning, we are proud to provide safe and reliable drinking water for generations to come.

Join us for Cycle the Well Field on May 21

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

What local resource is capable of producing close to 100 million gallons per day of high quality drinking water, is the second largest water source in the State of Oregon, and is used as a secondary water supply for customers served by the Portland Water Bureau?

Answer: The Columbia South Shore Well Field! 

The Columbia South Shore Well Field is a series of 26 water supply wells located between the Columbia River and I-84, and stretching from I-205 in Portland all the way to Troutdale. Groundwater from the well field is used to supplement water from the Bull Run watershed during turbidity events or hot summer weather when water demand is greatest.

2015 Cycle the Wellfield group photo

On Saturday, May 21, 2016 from 8:45 am to 1:30 pm, the Portland Water Bureau and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council invite you, your friends and family aged 12 and up to take part in a yearly bike tour of this resource during the “Cycle the Well Field” event. 

Learn about the history, safety and functionality of Portland's underground drinking water system while pedaling over relatively flat terrain at a slow/moderate pace. Helmets are required and light refreshments provided. Bring water and a lunch to enjoy at Blue Lake Park.

Advanced registration is required for this free event. Please contact Karen Carrillo, Columbia Slough Watershed Council Outreach Director, at 503-281-1132 or register online

Water Bureau Careers Showcased at Women in Trades Career Fair

By Jaymee Cuti Add a Comment

During the month of May we will feature the stories of some of the talented and dedicated women in trades at the Portland Water Bureau.

Many of these women volunteer for the annual Women in Trades Career Fair, produced by Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. on May 14. This interactive fair encourages middle and high school girls and women to explore the possibility of a future career in the trades.

For more than 13 years, women from the Portland Water Bureau have been a key part of this unique event with the goal of promoting and supporting the advancement and employment of women in the trades.

“The Portland Water Bureau is a great place to work and build a career. I am proud that we have steady participation in the Women in Trades Career Fair, which strengthens our future workforce,” said Michael Stuhr, Water Bureau Administrator.

Thank you to the professional and talented women in the Water Bureau who have dedicated their career to the trades.

Get to Know the Portland Water Bureau Tradeswomen

Wanda Hall

Wanda was a Seasonal Worker for Portland Parks before becoming an Apprentice Utility Worker for the Water Bureau in 2001. She is now a Utility Worker II. Wanda has a commercial driver’s license and operates six- and 12-yard dump trucks. She is learning to locate water mains and operate a backhoe. Wanda was on the Water Bureau’s tapping team for American Water Works Association (AWWA).

Joy Crays

Joy previously worked at Ready Made Barricades Inc. She became a Utility Worker Apprentice II for the Water Bureau in 2003 and before she finished her apprenticeship, she applied to become a Water Operations Mechanic. She is a crew leader and runs her own crew. She is also a trainer for new employees. Joy was on the Water Bureau tapping team for American Water Works Association (AWWA).

Colette Hubert

Colette was a Water Bureau intern in 1992 in the landscaping department and went to work at Portland Parks in 1993 as a Maintenance Worker and then a gardener. In 1997, she became a Utility Worker II at the Maintenance Bureau and was in the Labor Pool. She worked in street cleaning, structures, night ops. and traffic. Colette has a commercial driver’s license and has operated six- and 12-yard dump trucks, sweepers and flushers. She has also filled in as a Public Works Supervisor I. In September 2006, she came back as an Engineering Tech 1 which is called a Utility Locator at the Water Bureau. Colette locates all of our water mains and water services in the field.