Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

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

More Contact Info

Subscribe to RSS feed

Most Recent

View More

NEWS RELEASE 06/29/15: Portland Water Bureau Returns to 100 Percent Bull Run Water

Add a Comment

The Portland Water Bureau returned to 100 percent Bull Run water today, June 29, after blending a small portion of water from its Columbia South Shore Well Field into the water distribution system.

The Water Bureau began blending groundwater with Bull Run water on June 11 so scheduled work could be completed to strengthen interties on its largest conduit. This work was completed ahead of schedule, allowing the Water Bureau to return to 100 percent Bull Run sooner than anticipated. While this work occurred, the bureau also took the opportunity to perform its annual maintenance operation of the groundwater system. By routinely doing this operation, the bureau ensures the reliability of the system when needed, either in an emergency or to meet seasonal supply demands.

Due to careful planning, Portland is fortunate to have access to two excellent water sources that allow the City to be prepared to meet the range of supply and demand conditions that could occur this summer. Both the Bull Run and Columbia South Shore Well Field are high-quality water sources that meet or surpass all federal and state drinking water regulations.

It will take one to eight days, depending on location, for 100 percent Bull Run water to move through the distribution system and reach customers.

While public notification is not required, the Water Bureau informs the media and sensitive users, as a practice, when it activates and discontinues use of groundwater.

To learn more about the Columbia South Shore Well Field, visit Customers with water quality questions are encouraged to contact the Water Line at 503-823-7525.

Western Pond Turtle Found in the Bull Run Watershed

Add a Comment

Bull Run Watershed
Did you know?
Portland’s primary drinking water supply, the Bull Run Watershed, depends mostly on rain rather than snow, making it more resilient to warming temperatures.

In March, a Portland Water Bureau watershed specialist was working in the Bull Run Watershed when he happened upon a turtle crossing the road.

Western pond turtleHe knew immediately that this was a special find, so he hopped out of his rig, measured its shell, and snapped a quick photo of the animal before it continued on its way through the forest.

It turned out that the watershed specialist had found a Western pond turtle (Emys marmorata, sometimes Actinemys marmorata), one of only two native freshwater turtle species in the state. Moreover, the Western pond turtle is a critically sensitive species in Oregon, and is a priority at-risk species for the Oregon Conservation Strategy created by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW).

According to ODFW, Western pond turtles “are a priority species of conservation concern because they have experienced significant population declines in many parts of their ranges and continue to be highly vulnerable to habitat loss and other anthropogenic (human) impacts.”

The turtle found in March is believed to be the first turtle of any kind ever found in the Bull Run Watershed and the first Western pond turtle found on the Mt Hood National Forest - and what a seemingly odd location.

Western pond turtle Western pond turtle

The turtle was crossing a road at a point where either side is lined with dense forest, nearly a mile from any pond or reservoir. However, although pond turtles seek warm waters and sunlit logs for basking in late spring and summer, in winter they use upland terrestrial habitats where they may hibernate in underground burrows or the forest duff.

Interestingly, Western pond turtles are long lived. They don’t breed until they are seven to 12 years old and may live 50 years or more in the wild.

Weekly Watering Number – An Evapotranspiration Transformation

Add a Comment

Signs of summer – browning lawns, wilted plants, and dry soils – have appeared early this year, and many Portlanders have responded and started to water lawns and gardens.

Weekly Watering Number When watering, it can be hard to know how much to use. Plants lose water through a process called evapotranspiration (ET) which is the combination of water lost through evaporation and from plant transpiration. Generally, the amount of water lost through ET is equal to the amount of water that must be replaced to maintain healthy growing conditions. 

The rate of ET is affected by the amount of sun, wind, air temperature, and other variables. In Portland, it generally takes one-inch  of watering each week during the summer to offset normal ET for lawns.

Take the guesswork out of predicting the needs of your plants by looking at the Weekly Watering Number, a service provided by our partners at the Regional Water Providers Consortium which gives you the amount of water (in inches) your plants will need each week. 

The weekly watering number is updated every Thursday from April-September. It takes into account ET rates according to your zip code. Visit to see what your plants need today!

Sarah Murphy Santner
Water Efficiency

Portland Water Bureau Awarded Two Excellence in Communication Awards

Add a Comment

Clean, Cold, Constant brochure The Portland Water Bureau won two 2015 Excellence in Communications awards from the Pacific Northwest Section of the American Water Works Association (PNWS-AWWA). 

The awards were presented during a ceremony at the PNWS-AWWA annual conference in Bellevue, Washington on April 30.

Each year, water utilities from across the region submit their brochures, reports, websites, and other communication tools to the PNWS Communications Committee for award consideration. This year the Communications Committee also asked college students to review the materials.

The Water Bureau’s Clean, Cold, Constant brochure was developed to convey to Portland’s new residents basic, yet crucial, information about their water system. The award review committee found the brochure to be so good that it won the Best Print Media for a large utility and Best in Show.

Water Efficiency Program Coordinator Sarah Santner developed and wrote the brochure and Graphic Designer III Sarah Fine designed and illustrated it.  Congratulations to this creative team for their much deserved awards!

“The brochure does an impressive job of packaging information on water sources, system, quality, service charges, and efficiency,” says Water Bureau Administrator David Shaff. “The eye catching creative designs and easy-to-read text grabs the attention of the reader.”

To get a copy of the award-winning brochure, contact 503-823-4527 or e-mail

NEWS RELEASE 06/11/15: Portland Water Bureau to Run Groundwater Supply

Add a Comment

Beginning Thursday, June 11, the Portland Water Bureau will begin using its groundwater wells in the Columbia South Shore Well Field to ensure adequate supplies of water to its customers while work on supply conduits from Bull Run is being completed.

While public notification is not required, the Water Bureau informs the media and sensitive water users, as a practice, when it activates groundwater. One change that customers may notice is a slight increase in hardness. The media and sensitive water users will again be notified when it returns to 100 percent Bull Run water.

The Columbia South Shore Well Field is a high-quality water supply that meets or surpasses all federal and state drinking water regulations. Portland has access to two excellent water sources that can be used to meet water demands throughout the year.

As part of system improvements, maintenance work is being conducted on the Water Bureau’s three supply conduits. Work to strengthen the interties between the conduits will soon begin on the last and largest conduit. This scheduled maintenance coincides with an increase in water demand. As a result, groundwater from the Columbia South Shore Well field will be used to continue supplying clean, safe and constant drinking water to customers.

“In Portland, we’re fortunate to have two high quality sources of water,” said Portland Water Bureau Administrator David Shaff. "As other parts of the nation are struggling to meet their water supply needs, it's comforting that we can turn to our Columbia South Shore Well Field to meet our customers’ needs."

The groundwater system is estimated to contribute approximately 8% of supply for up to four weeks during the scheduled improvement work. While the work is being performed, the bureau will take the opportunity to perform its annual maintenance operation of the groundwater system, replacing the maintenance run scheduled for next month.

Depending on location, it will take between one and eight days for groundwater to move through the distribution system and reach customers. For more information about Portland’s drinking water quality, call the Water Line at 503-823-7525.

Jaymee Cuti
Public Information