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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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Be Water Wise: Water Pipe Insurance Policies not Affiliated with Portland Water Bureau

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Private home insurance companies are again conducting sales mailings offering water service line insurance in Portland. The Portland Water Bureau wants to remind our customers that such offers are not associated with the City of Portland, nor does the Portland Water Bureau have any connection with such companies, or any other such insurance carrier. 

These private companies send letters to Portland residents offering a repair plan for the water service line extending from the resident’s house to the water distribution pipeline, which usually runs from the water meter in front of the house.

These letters state that the line extending from the house to the water meter is the homeowner’s responsibility. This means that if the pipeline experiences a crack or break, the resident is responsible for all associated costs.

While this is in fact true, some sales literature from such insurance companies has confused some residents, making them feel that they are required to have an insurance policy that is separate from their homeowner’s policy to cover any water utility line damage. This is not true.

Here are the facts that you need to know:

  • There are no laws that require you to insure the water line.
  • It is completely up to you to decide whether you want or need this type of coverage, and through which company you want to buy such a policy.
  • If you receive a phone call from a sales person employed by a private company and they introduce themselves as having a relationship with the “water department,” this is false information. The Portland Water Bureau is a public utility, and does not contract/affiliate with any insurance providers.

Before signing an annual insurance plan that protects your water service line, the Water Bureau urges caution. Some plans may be legitimate offers, but make sure to examine the fine print. For example, letters received by customers in 2012 noted, in small print, that the private companies’ insurance plan will not pay for residential plumbing services if the water line fails due to “acts of God,” frozen pipes, faulty construction or maintenance, or “normal wear and tear.”

If you are interested in water service line insurance, the Portland Water Bureau encourages you to consider the following information:

  • Review your homeowner's policy and determine if water line coverage is already provided. If you do have water line coverage, make sure to contact your insurance company and ask how this coverage would work in conjunction with an annual insurance plan.
  • Determine if you have prior issues with your water line pipes or if there have been any issues in your neighborhood. This will help you in deciding the necessity of purchasing an annual insurance plan.
  • Compare several private insurance policies to make sure you find the policy the best suits your needs.
  • Read the fine print in the annual insurance plan carefully.
  • Check the company standing with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Business Review and see their rating and any past government actions or advertising concerns BBB has found.

If you are ever suspicious of anything related to your water service, please call the Water Bureau Customer Service hotline at 503-823-7770.

Customer Service Walk-In Center Closed December 25 and January 1

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The Portland Water Bureau's Customer Service Walk-In Center will be closed on Thursday, December 25 and on Thursday, January 1, 2015 in observance of the Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays.   

The Walk-In Center, located on the first floor of the Portland Building at 1120 SW 5th Avenue, will reopen on Friday, December 26 and Friday, January 2 at 8 a.m., respectively.

For your convenience you may pay your bill online, or pay by Visa or MasterCard by calling our automated payment system at 503-823-7770 and pressing 1. You may also leave a payment in the night box located outside the front door at 1120 SW 5th Avenue Portland, OR 97204.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

Customer Service

Make a New Year’s Resolution to Improve your Water Footprint

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With the temperature on the chilly side, thinking about water (the non-frozen variety) isn't high on the agenda for most people. But we always need drinking water — and clean drinking water at that.

In Portland we are blessed with an abundance of water that most of us take for granted. This is the season of thinking about what we will do in the new year to be and do better. How about reducing your water footprint? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Install high efficiency showerheads to reduce waste — save five to eight gallons per shower.
  • Limit showers to five minutes
  • Consider upgrading to a water and energy efficiency washing machine
  • Run your dishwasher only when it's full
  • Replace your older toilet with a WaterSense-labeled High-Efficiency toilet that uses 1.28 gallons per flush or less
  • Give up bottled water — it takes 1.85 gallons of water just to manufacture the plastic for one 12-ounce bottle.

The list goes on.

So think about what could work for you and make a commitment to do at least one thing this coming year.

Good luck and happy new year!

Maintaining Water Quality in Portland’s Neighborhoods, Mile by Mile

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The Portland Water Bureau works year-round to deliver high quality drinking water to its customers. One of the regular maintenance tasks that occurs throughout the city, neighborhood by neighborhood, is unidirectional flushing or UDF.UDF completed in 2014

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. Unidirectional flushing gets those sediments out by forcing water in the pipes to flow at much higher speeds than normal. Flushing crews temporarily close valves to isolate sections of pipe creating one-way flow and increased velocity, then the water and any sediments in the pipes are flushed out through an open fire hydrant. 

The UDF crew has finished flushing in the northwest heights and parts of Forest Park neighborhoods. The area served was roughly from NW Lambert St south to Cornell Rd and Skyline Blvd/Ramsey west to Mill Pond Rd. More than 15 miles of 4, 6 and 8 inch water mains were flushed in under four months by a two person crew.

So far this year, more than 43 miles of water mains have been flushed in southwest and northwest Portland neighborhoods.

Click on the map image to view a downloadable pdf format of the map.

Water Bureau Submits Land Use Review Application for Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project; Public Comment Period & Hearing in January 2015

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

On December 15, 2014, the Water Bureau submitted the first of two Land Use Review applications for the proposed Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project. In January 2015, BDS will issue a notice of public hearing and open the public comment period.

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 to the west 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.

Proposed project

Proposed improvements to Reservoir 3 (left) and Reservoir 4 (right)

Land Use Application #1
The initial Land Use application (Type IV, heard and decided by City Council following a public hearing) proposes the removal of the Weir Building (screen house), portions of lower Reservoir 4’s basin, and upper Reservoir 3’s basin. The gatehouses, dams, and other historic features will be protected and restored.

Land Use Application Package
In spring 2015, a second Land Use application package with two components will be submitted for construction of a new covered reservoir, reflecting pools, lowland habitat area/bioswale, walkways, and historic preservation and rehabilitation actions. The features, which are described in the first Type IV land use application, will offer the public enhanced access to the new surface water features and classically-designed gatehouses, dams, and related structures. These two reviews will be Type III. The Historic Resource Review will be heard and decided by the Historic Landmarks Commission following a public hearing. The Conditional Use and Environmental Review will be heard and decided by a Hearings Officer following a public hearing.

Before construction begins and permits can be issued for the work, the Land Use Review applications must be approved.

Community Sounding Board MeetingPublic Involvement
The applications are a result of a robust public involvement process that included multiple public open houses and nine Community Sounding Board (CSB) meetings that guided design for the required visible features of a new reservoir in Washington Park.  

CSB members included representatives from:

  • Portland Parks & Recreation
  • Neighbors West-Northwest District Coalition
  • Arlington Heights, Goose Hollow Foothills League, Northwest District, Northwest Heights, and Sylvan-Highlands Neighborhood Associations

Portland’s preservation organizations, including the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Historic Preservation League of Oregon, also participated in the public involvement process to help determine the future of the historic site.

The project addresses four major reservoir issues:

  • Recurrent landslide damage
  • Compliance with federal law
  • Seismic vulnerability
  • Deterioration of the 120 year-old structures

A copy of the land use applications submitted to BDS will be posted on the project webpage at The Bureau of Development Services maintains the official application record, which tracks updates and revisions over time.

Additional Information & Contacts

  • Project Information: For detailed information, visit the project webpage.
  • Land Use Review process: The Bureau of Development Services administers the land use review process. For more information about this process, please their website or call 503-823-7300.
  • Project Questions: Contact the Water Bureau Public Information staff by e-mail or at 503-823-3028.