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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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Information about Lead in Household Plumbing

By Jaymee Cuti Add a Comment

You’ve seen the headlines about the public health crisis in Flint, Mich. Thousands of Flint residents, including particularly vulnerable children, were exposed to lead-laced water. This prompted President Obama to declare a federal state of emergency in Flint.

The Portland Water Bureau is paying attention to what unfolded in Flint and our thoughts are with those who are struggling without access to safe and reliable water in their homes.

This kind of incident is unlikely to happen here because Portland’s drinking water comes from two high-quality sources – the clean, cold and protected water of the Bull Run Watershed and Columbia South Shore Well Field. Our source water meets or surpasses all federal and state drinking water standards.

In Portland, we do not have lead pipes. Our distribution system has never used lead service lines.

The main source of lead in drinking water in Portland is from lead solder used in home plumbing. Even then, only very few homes are affected – generally those built between 1970 and 1985. Lead can also be found in brass plumbing fixtures and components installed prior to 2014, with components older than 1985 having potentially higher amounts of lead. The Portland Water Bureau regularly tests for lead from homes known to contain lead solder. These test results consistently meet federal regulations.

The greatest source of exposure to lead in the Portland region is from lead paint in homes build before 1978.

The Portland Water Bureau shares a commitment with water providers to protect public health. Portland has a unique, comprehensive approach to dealing with lead in our community. The Portland Water Bureau treats the water to make it less corrosive. This treatment has reduced levels of lead at the tap up to 70 percent in water from high-risk homes. The Portland Water Bureau also funds education, outreach and testing for all sources of lead, including lead paint.

The only way to know with certainty if you have lead in your home plumbing is to test your water at the tap. The Portland Water Bureau provides free lead and water test kits to any customer by request. If you are concerned about lead levels in your drinking water, or would like information on ways to reduce exposure to all sources of lead contact the LeadLine at www.leadline.org or 503-988-4000 to request a free lead-in-water test kit.

Here are some simple steps you can do to reduce your exposure to lead in drinking water from your home plumbing:

  • Run your water to flush out lead. If water hasn’t been used for several hours, run the water for 30 seconds to 2 minutes or until it becomes cold or reaches a steady temperature before drinking or cooking.
  • Use cold, fresh water for cooking and preparing baby formula. Do not use water from the hot tap to cook, drink, or make baby formula. Lead dissolves more easily into hot water.
  • Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water will not reduce lead.
  • Consider using a filter. Confirm the filter is approved to reduce lead. Always maintain and replace a filter device in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions to protect water quality. Contact NSF International at (800) NSF-8010 or www.nsf.org for information on performance standards for water filters.
  • Test your child for lead. Ask your physician or call the LeadLine at 503-988-4000 to find out how to have your child tested for lead. A blood lead level test is the only way to know if your child is being exposed to lead.
  • Consider buying low-lead fixtures. As of Jan. 1, 2014 all pipes, fittings, and fixtures are required to contain less than 0.25% lead. When buying new fixtures, consumers should seek out those with the lowest lead content. Visit www.nsf.org to learn more about lead content in plumbing fixtures.

Regularly clean your faucet aerator. Particles containing lead from solder or household plumbing can become trapped in your faucet aerator. Regularly cleaning every few months will remove these particles and reduce your exposure to lead.

MEDIA ADVISORY 01/26/16: Kids Experience Bull Run

By Jaymee Cuti

Student Art Exhibit at City Hall

Fourth-graders from Boise-Eliot/Humboldt School and their art teacher will address Portland City Council at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3, in City Hall Council Chambers, followed by a reception. These young artists will bring to Council their personal impressions from inside the protected Bull Run Watershed.

This fall, these students had a unique field trip to the watershed that focused on water and art. The Portland Water Bureau guides hundreds of students through the Bull Run each year to study water science and engineering. The Boise-Eliot/Humboldt field trips added a special mission: visit Bull Run and bring the experience back to Portland through art.

The special tour was designed for these students to experience the watershed through their five senses – even taste. Students took a silent walk through the forest; recorded sound from inside a dam; practiced photo yoga; and tasted an oxalis plant. Upon returning to school, they created the artwork on display in the City Hall atrium.

“The grass is green. The river looks beautiful with the trees. It’s very amazing because I don’t usually get to be in places like this,” said Mahogany, a Boise-Eliot/Humboldt fourth-grader. “I can’t wait to go home and tell my mom about what I saw.”

You can experience Bull Run by visiting the student art exhibit in the City Hall atrium in February or by signing up for a guided Bull Run tour (on a limited basis July-September, www.portlandoregon.gov/water/tours). Still photos, audio and video files are available.

Bull Run Art Exhibit • Feb.  3 – 25 Portland City Hall, 1221 SW Fourth Ave., Portland Atrium art exhibit open Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. To learn more about the Bull Run Art Exhibit, visit www.portlandoregon.gov/water/KidsExperienceBullRun.

Join Our Team: Customer Accounts Specialist I

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

If you're interested in joining an award-winning public utility where employees thrive on the pride of delivering a life-essential product with world class customer service, the Portland Water Bureau might be just the place for you.

The Water Bureau is a recognized leader in the utility industry. We've achieved this success by investing in the very best people and empowering them to find new and better ways to meet our customer's needs.

The Water Bureau currently employs approximately 560 people. All current job postings with the City of Portland are posted online, and updated weekly. We are an equal opportunity employer that values diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Current Opportunity at the Water Bureau

Position Emp. Type Salary Closing Date/Time Join Our Team 
**Customer Accounts Specialist I Full Time $17.77 - $25.62 Hourly Fri. 02/05/16 4:30 PM Pacific Time Apply

**This recruitment will remain open until 150 applications have been received or until the posted closing date, February 5, 2016, whichever comes first. Applications received after the 150 application limit has been reached will not be included in this recruitment process.

Learn More about the Water Bureau
 

Questions
For more information regarding career opportunities at the Water Bureau, contact the Water Administrative Manager at 503-823-1956 or by e-mail

White Cloudy Water

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

Throughout the year, the Portland Water Bureau’s Water Line receives calls from customers who say their tap water appears milky white or cloudy. 

In the majority of cases the cloudy water is caused by harmless air bubbles, but sometimes it can indicate a water heater issue.  Fortunately, determining the cause is as simple as filling up a clear glass with water and setting it on the counter.  

  • If the water clears from the bottom of the glass to the top, the water has air bubbles. This reaction sometimes occurs when cold water from underground mains enters warmer pipes inside your home. Since cold water holds more dissolved air than warm water, as water warms air may be released as tiny bubbles when a tap is turned on. The water is safe to drink, the discoloring is just the result of a harmless reaction.
  • If the water in the glass clears from the top-down, and white or grey particles settle to the bottom, this may indicate a water heater issue. To determine the type of issue, remove some of the particles from the water and add them to a small amount of vinegar. If the particles dissolve, this indicates mineral content and your hot water heater may require maintenance. If the particles don’t dissolve, it is likely the water heater dip tube is breaking down and repair is needed. 

Home Water Quality
To learn about water quality at home, visit the Water Bureau's Drinking Water Quality webpage or contact the Water Quality Line at 503-823-7525 or WBWaterLine@portlandoregon.gov (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday).

Make Every Drop Count!

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

In an average home, 22 gallons of water are lost to leakage each day – that’s more than $114 per year on your sewer, stormwater, and water bill.

The most common culprits are leaking toilets or dripping faucets. If your water usage is higher than usual or averages more than eight CCF per person every three months (eight CCF equates to 5,984 gallons of water), you may have a leak.

All water services in Portland are metered. Meter readings determine the water and sewer charges on your quarterly bill. Reading your meter is a great way to detect a leak if you have one.

Saving Water Makes Sense!

Check out the Portland Water Bureau's Yes! You Can Find a Water Leak! brochure for ways to discover leaks and simple repair actions.

Here to Help

Portland Water Bureau Customer Service
For questions about your bill or more information on finding leaks, contact Customer Service at 503-823-7770 or PWBCustomerService@portlandoregon.gov.

Portland Water Bureau Water Conservation Program
The Portland Water Bureau provides free water conservation devices and materials. To order, visit www.portlandoregon.gov/water/conservation or call 503-823-4527.