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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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Water Bureau Crews Work Around the Clock Fixing Cold-Weather Water Emergencies

By Brian Balla

Water Bureau maintenance crews repair pipes


Over the weekend, Portland Water Bureau crews were busy responding to emergency shut offs, out of water calls (due to frozen pipes) and six main breaks throughout the Portland region. Two main breaks each occurred in Southwest, Northeast and Southeast Portland.

Thank you to our dedicated maintenance crews for working hard to fix these cold-weather water emergencies.

Main Breaks: How to Report Them and What to Expect

Please be our eyes and ears.

If you suspect that a main is broken in your neighborhood, please call the Water Bureau’s 24-hour emergency line at 503-823-4874.

Learn more about water main breaks, and what to expect if a main breaks in your area, by visiting the Water Bureau’s Main Break Season info page.

Water Bureau Finds Cryptosporidium in Bull Run Water: City to increase monitoring efforts of drinking water source

By Jaymee Cuti Add a Comment

Today, the Portland Water Bureau received results that Cryptosporidium was detected in a routine water sample collected Monday, January 2, from the Bull Run watershed, which provides drinking water to Portland and neighboring communities. The lab results show that two individual Cryptosporidium oocysts were present in a 50-liter (~13 gallons) sample of water.

At this time, we do not believe there is any public health risk as a result of this detection. The public is not being asked to take any precautions.

The Portland Water Bureau currently does not treat for the parasite because of a variance issued by the State of Oregon Health Authority (OHA) in 2012. Instead, the Portland Water Bureau is required to conduct routine monitoring for Cryptosporidium and notify the public of any detections.

* The Portland Water Bureau tests at least 100 liters per week from the source water intake for Cryptosporidium, a potentially pathogenic microorganism.
* This detection at the intake is the first since the Portland Water Bureau began operation under the variance in April 2012 and the first since December 30, 2011, when a single oocyst was also detected. These two instances are the only detections that have occurred since August 2002.
* As required by the conditions of the treatment variance, the Portland Water Bureau will begin increased monitoring next week at the source water intake for at least one year to demonstrate whether the Cryptosporidium concentration is less than 0.075 oocysts per 1,000 liters.

"Laboratory results indicate a detection of an extremely small amount of Cryptosporidium," said Water Bureau Administrator Mike Stuhr. "The Water Bureau will increase monitoring at the drinking water source, as we agreed to do as a condition of the variance. The variance continues to be valid despite this single detection."

The City has consulted with the Multnomah County Health Department and OHA. Public health officials have determined that no special precautions for Portland's drinking water are currently necessary, aside from increased monitoring and testing efforts currently underway. As is always recommended, people with severely weakened immune systems should seek specific advice about drinking water from their health care provider.

"Since animals can carry certain types of Cryptosporidium, if we test enough water we will eventually find this parasite, even from a highly-protected source like the Bull Run" said Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Paul Lewis. "Fortunately we have never had an outbreak of Cryptosporidium in the 120 years we have been drinking water from the Bull Run." The county's ongoing surveillance has shown no unexplained increase in Cryptosporidium cases.

The Water Bureau is performing a thorough investigation that may include additional sampling and will attempt to identify any possible sources of the Cryptosporidium detection. The Water Bureau will notify the public of any additional detections.

Additional information regarding Water Bureau's treatment variance is available at www.portlandoregon.gov/water/lt2treatmentvariance. Customers with questions regarding water quality can call the Water Line at (503) 823-7525.

Celebrating Portland Water Bureau’s Artists

By Brian Balla

To kick off the new year, the Portland Water Bureau is celebrating some of our very own artists! Every year, the City of Portland and Multnomah County hosts an exhibit titled all the art that fits in the Portland Building lobby. This year, seven talented Water Bureau artists were featured.

We checked in with some of those artists to find out more about what inspired them to create their pieces.

“Saw the scene on a ride back to downtown from Interstate.
Captured the picture with my phone.
Tried to draw the picture.”
Leigh Kojiro, Electrical Engineer

 

“I really have fun creating my funky, whimsical pieces using wood, clay, paper and found objects—it’s great therapy and a nice break from computer graphics! I find inspiration everywhere-- nature, animals (especially cats, dogs and birds), old movies and interesting people throughout history. I’ve got some new ideas cooking for 2017!!”
Sarah Fine, Graphic Designer

“I think of myself as more of a snapshooter than a photographer, and periodically pick out shots to keep. My family moved from Denver to Los Angeles in 1925, and they followed the Pony Express/Butterfield Stage Route from Salt Lake City to near Ely, NV. I drove this route—which includes about 200 miles of unpaved road—and snapped my photo somewhere just south of the Great Salt Desert in western Utah.”
Tom Carter, Senior City Planner

“I found a picture of a snowy owl in an environmental magazine, and thought it would make a lovely marquetry project. I tried to keep it simple, and use the grain of the wood to emulate the feathers. I think it came out nicely.”
Bob Goldie, Senior Planner

You can see these pieces, and all the art that fits, in person in the lobby of the Portland Building at 1120 S.W. Fifth Ave. in Portland between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. until January 9.

Please join us in welcoming the new year by recognizing some of the creative minds at work at the bureau every day.

Water Main Flushing to Begin January 2017

By Brian Balla


Starting in January 2017, the Water Bureau will be conducting uni-directional flushing (UDF) of water mains in parts of the following North and Northeast Portland neighborhoods:

  • Bridgeton
  • Concordia
  • Cully
  • East Columbia
  • Kenton
  • Piedmont
  • Portland Airport area
  • Portsmouth
  • Sumner
  • Sunderland
  • Woodlawn

Flushing will be conducted between 8 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Click here to view a map of the areas scheduled for flushing.

Improving and Maintaining High-Quality Drinking Water

Drinking water systems, especially unfiltered systems like Portland, need to routinely clean the network of pipes to improve water quality. Over time, very fine sediment and organic matter from the Bull Run settle out of the water and accumulate in the bottom of the pipes. While the sediments are generally harmless, they can make the disinfectant in the water less effective.

Click here to find out how the Portland Water Bureau uses flushing to clean and maintain the drinking water system.

Flushing in Your Neighborhood

Unidirectional flushing will have minimal impacts to customers. If you see hydrant flushing crews working in the area, please drive carefully and treat them like any other road construction crew.

During Flushing

Residents in the immediate vicinity of flushing may notice temporarily discolored water and lower than normal water pressure. The discoloration does not pose a health risk. However, avoid using tap water or running the washing machine or dishwasher until flushing is complete.

After Flushing

If you experience some discoloration in your water from nearby flushing, run the water at one tap for 5 minutes to see if it clears. If it does not clear wait an hour and try again. When the water runs clear, flush any taps where discolored water was present.

Need Assistance?

The Water Line is available 8:30 am – 4:30 pm Monday-Friday at 503-823-7525 or WBWaterLine@portlandoregon.gov. If you have a discolored water-related emergency after these hours, please call 503-823-4874 to speak with a Water Bureau Emergency Dispatcher. To learn more about home water quality, visit the Water Bureau’s Drinking Water Quality at Home page.

Protect Your Home's Plumbing this Winter

By Brian Balla

Rain, ice and snow can play havoc with water pipes. Below are tips for protecting your home’s plumbing this winter:

OUTSIDE PLUMBING

  • Caulk around pipes where they enter the home.
  • Close all foundation vents and fill vent openings with wood or Styrofoam blocks.
  • Wrap outside faucets or hose bibs with insulation if you don’t have a separate outside valve to turn them off. Use molded foam-insulating covers which are available at hardware stores. Newspaper or rags (covered with plastic wrap) are another option. 
  • Disconnect garden hoses and drain in-ground irrigation systems.

INSIDE PLUMBING

  • Insulate pipes in unheated areas, such as attics, crawl spaces and basements.
  • When below-freezing weather is forecast, open cupboard doors in the kitchen and bathrooms. This allows these pipes to get more heat from inside your home.
  • If you leave home for several days, put your furnace on a low setting. This may not prevent freezing pipes but it can help.
  • Let a slight drip of water run when temperatures dip below freezing. Use cold water to avoid water heating charges.

WHAT IF PIPES FREEZE?

  • Thaw plumbing lines safely with a hair dryer. Once the pipe has thawed, make sure to leave a little water running so the pipe doesn’t freeze again.
  • Do not open the water meter box near the curb. It could increase the chance of freezing water at the meter.

WHAT IF PIPES BREAK?

  • Close your main water shut-off valve to your house. Most shutoff valves are located where the water line enters the house, either at the front of your house where you connect your hose, or basement near the hot water heater, or inside the garage.
  • Turn off the water heater. Locate the dedicated shut-off valve on the cold water inlet.
  • Remember, the repair of broken pipes on the customer’s side of the meter is the customer’s responsibility. Contact a plumber for repair work.

The Water Bureau reminds customers that the best way to handle any sort of water emergency in your home including broken pipes is to be prepared before it happens. Taking a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the plumbing system in your home and note the location of all shut off valves are important steps in preventing a plumbing emergency from turning into a disaster. 

Customers that experience urgent water problems should call the Portland Water Bureau’s 24/7 emergency hotline at 503-823-4874.