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

The Proposed 2016/17 Budget: Providing Good Value to Ratepayers

By Jaymee Cuti Add a Comment

The Portland Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) submitted our proposed budgets for 2016-17 on Feb. 1. Our bureaus kept our combined public utility bill increases under 5 percent.

The proposed budget came in at a combined 4.59 percent rate increase, which amounts to a $4.55 increase for a typical household per monthly bill.

Our budget reflects our priorities and we want you to know that you are getting a good value when you pay your utility bill.  

The Bull Run Watershed is the envy of the nation. We provide clean, safe, and reliable water to nearly a million people in the region.

So why increase rates? Topping the list of reasons that necessitate an increase is compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act. Unfunded mandates keep us in good standing with state and federal regulations to ensure that your water is always clean and safe. Next is the cost of maintaining an aging system. More than 2,000 miles of pipe deliver water throughout the Portland area. While our gravity-fed system is an engineering marvel, many of our pipes are more than 80 years old. We need to invest in our aging system.

Finally, we are committed to making our system more resilient. Portland is at risk of a major earthquake. When the “Big One” hits, we need to be prepared. That’s why the budget includes critical investments in projects that harden our conduits, fortify our facilities, and reinforce our new reservoirs. One of those projects is a new and reinforced pipe deep under the Willamette River. In our climate of heightened concern about the risks of a major earthquake, now is the time for a wise resiliency project of this magnitude.

No one likes to pay more for a vital service – we get it! The key issue for many is whether we are getting a good value in return.

As Portlanders, we enjoy the highest quality water in the nation. The Bull Run Watershed and Columbia South Shore Well Field meet or surpass all safe drinking water standards. The city delivers two gallons of water to every doorstep for about a penny—that’s a good deal.

How do our combined water, sewer and stormwater bills stack up against comparable cities? A household would pay double or more for the same services in Seattle, San Francisco or Atlanta. Another way of looking at value is to ask what would happen if we cut corners? Flint, Michigan, is a stark reminder that investing in our water system isn’t just good policy, it’s a matter of public health and safety.

The newly formed Portland Utility Board (PUB) provided oversight in our budget process. The highly regarded Citizens’ Utility Board (CUB) also served as an independent advocate for our ratepayers. Together, the PUB and the CUB are helping us craft a responsible budget and plan for the future.

Your voice matters, too. In the months ahead, there will be plenty of opportunities for hear from the families and businesses we serve. The Portland Water Bureau’s proposed budget will be posted online at:

Please join us in our goal of continuing to deliver the highest quality water and customer services at a fair price, invest ratepayer dollars wisely, and protect our precious natural resources for generations to come.

UPDATE -- TRAFFIC ADVISORY 01/26/16: Sewer Main Repair Closes Lane of SE Hawthorne Boulevard from SE 24th to SE 23rd Avenues

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

January 27, 2016

Sewer repairs have closed the right westbound lane of SE Hawthorne Boulevard between SE 24th and SE 25th avenues.

Westbound traffic on Hawthorne is reduced to a single lane at that location. Eastbound traffic on Hawthorne is not affected.

There is no estimate at this time when repairs will be complete and the right lane of Hawthorne Boulevard will re-open.

For more information, contact Linc Mann with the Bureau of Environmental Services at 503-823-5328.


January 26, 2016 

The northern westbound lane of SE Hawthorne Boulevard from SE 24th to SE 23rd Avenues is currently closed to traffic as crews work to address a broken sewer main.

The broken sewer main was discovered after Portland Water Bureau Maintenance & Construction crews addressed a main break just after 3 p.m. today, Jan. 26, 2016.

Water service to customers has not been impacted.

Traffic is being diverted into the inside westbound lane of SE Hawthorne Boulevard. Both eastbound lanes on SE Hawthorne Boulevard are open between SE 24th and SE 23 Avenues.

At this time, it has not been determined when the northbound westbound lane of SE Hawthorne Boulevard will reopen.

Motorist are reminded to stay alert and use caution as traffic may suddenly slow or stop. To avoid traffic delays, motorists are encouraged to use alternate routes around the work site.

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 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 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 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, 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

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

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