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

Kelly Butte Reservoir Takes Shape

Add a Comment

Kelly Butte Reservoir worksite January 2014

Over the past 18 months, crews have made tremendous progress on construction of the new 25-million-gallon underground reservoir, access roads, overflow basin, and an intricate network of underground piping, multiple vaults and valve structures a top Kelly Butte in Southeast Portland. 

This new reservoir replaces a 10-million above-ground reservoir which was built in 1969. The old reservoir was not large enough to meet Portland’s growing water needs, was not seismically sound, and had regular maintenance issues. The new 25-million gallon reservoir, which will be out of sight under a grassy field surrounded by oak trees upon completion, will be built to current seismic code and will provide adequate water to meet Portland’s needs for generations to come.

Concrete pour in column east cell

Crews are now working to strategically pour the reservoir’s floor, walls, and supporting columns. Several valve structures (valves are pipe connection locations) recently constructed on-site will control the water flow to and from the reservoir.

In tandem, crews are installing a 23-foot wide by 40-foot long valve in a vault under the westbound lane in the 9700 block of SE Powell Boulevard. The new valve is a critical step in connecting the new reservoir to the existing water supply conduit. The prefabricated concrete vault will house large, complex piping and device assemblies.

The entire Kelly Butte Reservoir project, including the reservoir, underground piping, vaults and valve structures is slated for completion in summer 2015.

The reservoir will not only serve east Portland, but will also be a stopover for water supplied to the Washington Park reservoir and southwest Portland area water storage tanks.

Keep up to date with the Kelly Butte Reservoir project webpage online.

Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information

Protecting Vital Water Connections through Underground Vaults

Add a Comment

Work to connect the new 50-million gallon reservoir at Powell Butte toPortland’s drinking water distribution system is underway, and is expected to last through November 2014 at various locations inSoutheast Portland. 

The installation of seven underground vaults is a necessary and crucial step in connecting the new  Powell Butte reservoir to the city’s water system.

To install underground vaults, contractor crews will first excavate a large hole for the vault, which will either be constructed onsite or built elsewhere and put in place. After vault construction or installation is finished – complete with a manhole cover – water connections are made and any electrical work is then performed. The final step is to cover the new vault with gravel and pave over it with asphalt.

Vault on SE 42nd Avenue at SE Division Street Vault on SE 147th Avenue at SE Powell Boulevard

Currently, four vaults have already been installed under two eastside streets:

  • Two side-by-side vaults on SE 147th Avenue at SE Division Street
  • One vault at SE 159th Avenue at SE Harrison Street
  • One vault at SE 42nd Avenue at SE Division Street

Three vaults are scheduled to be installed within the next six months:

  • One vault at SE 67th Avenue and SE Division Street     
  • One vault at SE 68th Avenue and SE Division Street
  • One vault at SE 162nd Street and SE Division Street

While we’ve worked with nearby residents and businesses to minimize construction impacts and ensure safe worksites and clearly marked detour routes, some noise, truck traffic, and street access impacts will be unavoidable. 

Your patience is appreciated as we work to upgrade and improve our community’s century-old water system, which first produced drinking water for Portlanders in 1895.

We work hard to be good neighbors when we do construction projects. For more project information, and to share your feedback, please call us at 503-823-6926.

Tim Hall
Public Information 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY 03/25/14: Water Project Construction Impacts SE 67th Avenue at SE Division Street

Add a Comment

Official Traffic Advisory  

Scheduled to start on Wednesday, March 26, a contractor for the Portland Water Bureau will install a large water utility vault in SE 67th Avenue at SE Division Street. The work will require that one eastbound lane in SE Division Street be closed around the work zone, between SE 66th and SE 68th avenues. 

Traffic on SE 67th Avenue, between SE Division and SE Ivon streets, will be open to local access only. Detour signs will be posted and sidewalks will remain open for pedestrians. 

The new water vault – a pre-built concrete structure that will house pipe connections – is part of the water system improvements required to connect the city’s new Powell Butte reservoir to the water system. A second vault will be constructed on SE 68th Avenue near SE Division at a later date. 

Typically, work hours are 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Monday through Friday. This work is slated for completion in 30 to 45 days. Motorists are encouraged to find alternate routes.

For more project information, visit

Tim Hall
Public Information

Water Meter Readers are Going Places (Literally)

Add a Comment


The Portland Water Bureau currently employs 12 water meter readers responsible for reading meters at homes and businesses on their assigned routes throughout the City of Portland.  Meter readers fall under the Customer Services Group, and are based out of the Water Bureau’s Interstate Facility in north Portland.

Meter readers work Monday through Friday, in all weather conditions including snow, ice, and frozen rain. Reading a meter may seem easy, but there’s definitely an art to it. Readers are often challenged by inclement weather conditions, piled snow, aggressive animals, parked vehicles, overgrown plants, and construction materials. Oftentimes, customers place compost and recycling carts and garbage containers over their meters on collection day, affecting access and quick reads.

On average, each meter reader walks seven miles and reads 500 meters each day. In January 2014 alone, 65,100 meters were read in a city with 180,000 customer accounts. 

Handheld computers

Using handheld computers, meter readers manually capture readings. The computer then calculates the amount of water used which is then compared with water used during the same time period the previous year. The computer will alert the meter reader if the current water usage surpasses the previous water usage, prompting a meter re-read.  If water usage remains elevated, the reader will leave a courtesy notice of increased usage for the property owner. The notice suggests common reasons for the high water usage, such as summer watering, an increased number of people in the household and structural or underground leaks.

The meter read is a crucial and first step in the utility billing process. Without the initial meter read, the Customer Services Group would not be able to prepare the average 87,000 statements each month for a variety of rate payers, including residential and commercial water customers.


Water meter readers are not only an essential component of the Water Bureau’s billing system but they also play many other lesser-known roles that are equally, if not more, important. Meter readers interact with the public on a daily basis, coming to customers’ homes and forming relationships that often last for years. They spend their day walking and driving around local neighborhoods, learning the ins-and-outs of every block and even individual homes. Often times, the readers know when something is out of place or suspicious. By their very presence every day, our water meter readers continue to be a valuable part of the community and a set of eyes on patrol.

Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information

Join the Portland Water Bureau's Online Community! 
Follow us on Twitter. Like us on Facebook. See us on Flickr.

City Sewer & Water Ratepayers Discuss Rates with Mayor, City Commissioners & Bureau Management Staff

Add a Comment

On the evening of Wednesday, March 19, 2014, the City of Portland held a City Utility Rate Review for the public to discuss drinking water and sewer-storm water rates. Sponsored by the City Budget Office, the Rate Review session was hosted at Parkrose High School in northeast Portland.  

Mayor Charlie Hales, City Council members, and management staff from both the Portland Water Bureau and the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) were on hand to answer questions and discuss the combined 4.92 percent rate increase proposed by the City’s two utility bureaus. 

As in traditional budget meetings, Portlanders in attendance were invited to provide feedback and pose questions to the Council.

The presentation given by Water Bureau Administrator David Shaff and Environmental Services Director Dean Marriott and the informational posters related to the Water Bureau can be viewed at

Answers to questions asked by the public will also be posted on the Water Bureau's City Utility Rate Review website, BES’s website, and Commissioner Nick Fish's website by Wednesday, April 9, 2014.

Heartbleed Security Notice

A serious security vulnerability known as "Heartbleed" was recently discovered in OpenSSL, a popular software library commonly used by many websites on the internet to encrypt communication between a user's computer and a web server. is NOT affected by this vulnerability as it does not use the OpenSSL software library. Please rest assured we are dedicated to protecting your security on this website.