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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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Celebrating our Groundwater Source

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

Portland geology by tram, train, and footAt the Portland Water Bureau, we always appreciate groundwater.

The city's 27 wells give us a reliable water supply during turbidity events and long, dry summers.

Groundwater was especially important this year. This long, dry summer meant we used groundwater more than we ever have before.

You can learn more about the rock layers that make this all possible by taking a self-guided field trip of Portland's geology (written by Oregon's State Geologist!).

Take a Dip in Our News Stream

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

Interested in staying up-to-date with Portland Water Bureau news and information alerts?

Simply follow the steps below to subscribe and automatically receive by e-mail the latest Water Bureau press releases, news announcements, and Water Blog articles. 

Press Release Subscription

Sign up for a press release subscription and receive Water Bureau emergency alerts and news releases. This includes traffic advisories, news announcements on planned or emergency projects, steps to address and how to contact the Water Bureau with urgent water emergencies, and water efficiency and cold weather tips.

On average, the Water Bureau sends out three to four press releases each month. To register to automatically receive alerts or releases, follow these steps: 

  • Visit FlashAlert.     

  • Enter your primary e-mail address.

  • Click the boxes to the left of both Emergency Alerts and News Releases.

  • Click Subscribe.     

  • In the following window, confirm your e-mail address and create a password

Blog Subscription

Since 2011, the Water Bureau has utilized the Water Blog to help share information and knowledge.

The Water Blog, built into the Water Bureau’s website, is just one tool to help distribute important information to thousands of customers. In fact, in 2014, the blog was accessed by more than 1.5 million readers.

The blog is a platform for a variety of topics, and includes detailed articles on how the Water Bureau is:

  • Replacing and maintaining the aging water system infrastructure (repairs, replacements, and upgrades).

  • Providing excellent quality water for customers.

  • Improving responsiveness to customer needs.

  • Promoting engagement of the community. 

Interested in subscribing to our blog? Click here for instructions on how to subscribe and review daily, weekly, or monthly e-mails with new Water Blog articles.

Workshop Preps Water Utilities for Cyanobacterial Bloom Events

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

Genera & toxins information presented at workshopOn September 16, the Portland Water Bureau hosted a Water Research Foundation (WaterRF) workshop on cyanotoxins at the Water Resources Education Center in Vancouver, Washington.

The workshop was led by Kim Linton from WaterRF and David Cornwell and Damon Roth from EE&T Inc., an environmental engineering consulting firm. The workshop was well attended by staff from the Water Bureau, Oregon Health Authority, and other Pacific Northwest utilities includes suppliers from Washington and Oregon, including those from Tacoma, Tualatin Valley, Lake Grove, Medford, Salem, Clackamas, and Washington County. 

Workshop on cyanotoxins  
Participants attended presentations on the monitoring, treatment, and communication aspects of cyanotoxins and exchanged ideas with other water providers during group discussions.

Cyanobacteria blooms, often referred to as blue-green algae, can be a common occurrence in surface water often resulting in taste and odor episodes for utilities. However, these same organisms can produce cyanotoxins and may cause public concern.

Fortunately, the Water Bureau does not see elevated levels of cyanobacteria in the Bull Run reservoirs.

The issue gained media attention in August 2014 after more than 400,000 people were left without safe drinking water in Ohio and Michigan when the cyanotoxins levels caused a Do Not Drink Order during a Lake Erie algae bloom. The Environmental Protection Agency also recently released a public health advisory on the topic.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY: Pedestrian Crossing Signals Down in All Directions at SW Macadam Avenue and SW Nevada Street

By Jaymee Cuti Add a Comment

Portland Water Bureau crews working on a water line on Southwest Macadam Avenue at Southwest Nevada Street broke an electrical conduit, which operates the pedestrian crosswalk signals.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is working on the repair, and expects it to be completed by Saturday, Nov. 14.

Pedestrians should use caution when crossing the street with the traffic light. Motorists should take extra care in watching for pedestrians in these crosswalks.

At the time of the conduit break, Water Bureau crews were working on the Hannah Mason Pump Station project, replacing the aging Fulton Pump Station that provides water service to areas of Southwest Portland. For more information, visit the project website:

Washington Park Reservoir Project: HLC Unanimously Approves Type III Historic Review Application

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

In order to comply with federal and state mandates, and ensure a healthy, resilient, and secure water system, the Portland Water Bureau is moving forward with a project to update the Washington Park reservoir site.

On November 9, 2015, the Historic Landmarks Commission unanimously voted 4 to 0 to approve the Portland Water Bureau’s Type III Historic Review application for the Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project.

The vote followed an initial public hearing held on August 10, 2015 when the Commission received testimony from the Water Bureau and members of the public. At that hearing, the Commission decided to hold the record open for the submittal of new evidence, responses, and   the Water Bureau’s final argument related to the Type III application. The record closed September 14, 2015. The most recent hearing afforded the Commission the opportunity to deliberate and make a decision about the proposal.

The Director of the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) will issue the Commission’s decision within 17 calendar days. If the decision is appealed, the case will be heard and decided by City Council.

The Type III application describes the proposed project’s historic preservation and rehabilitation actions and construction of a covered reservoir, reflecting pools, lowland habitat area/bioswale, and walkways. These features will offer the public enhanced access to the new surface water features and classically-designed gatehouses, dams, and related structures.

A courtesy copy of the application submitted to the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) is posted on the Water Bureau’s project webpage at Note that BDS maintains the official case record, which tracks updates and revisions over time.

Project Details

Proposed improvements

The Water Bureau’s Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project proposes to build a new below-ground reservoir in the same general footprint as the existing upper Reservoir 3, with a reflecting pool on top. The lower Reservoir 4 basin and the slope west of it are needed to provide landslide abatement; the slope will be restored to its pre-reservoir condition.

Reservoir 4 will be disconnected from the public drinking water system and a lowland habitat area/bioswale and a reflecting pool are also proposed in the Reservoir 4 basin. Work will primarily be within the Historic District.

The project addresses major reservoir issues, including recurrent landslide damage, compliance with federal law, seismic vulnerability, and deterioration of the 120 year-old structures.

The project includes three Land Use Reviews (LUR). Detailed information is included in the chart to the right:

  • Type IV Demolition Review application: The application proposed the removal of the Weir Building (screen house), portions of lower Reservoir 4’s basin, and upper Reservoir 3’s basin in Washington Park.
  • Type III Historic Review application: The application describes historic preservation and rehabilitation actions and proposes construction of a covered reservoir, reflecting pools, lowland habitat area/bioswale, and walkways.            
  • Type III Conditional Use/ Environmental/Tree Reviews application: The application addresses development impacts to the site, park, and surrounding neighborhoods, tree protection, natural-area restoration, and construction and traffic management for the project.

Before work permits are issued or construction begins, all applications must be approved.

The applications are a result of a robust public involvement process that included multiple public open houses and nine Community Sounding Board meetings that guided design for the required visible features of the Washington Park project.

Additional Information & Contacts
For detailed project information, visit the project webpage or contact Water Bureau Public Information staff at 503-823-3028 or by e-mail. Visit the Bureau of Development Services’ website or call 503-823-7300 for more information on the land use review application process.