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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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Water Quality at Home: Chlorine Taste and Odor

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Water quality samplersThe Portland Water Bureau treats drinking water through a process called chloramination.

First chlorine is added to disinfect the source water to ensure that your water is protected from harmful bacteria and micro-organisms. Then ammonia is added to ensure the disinfection remains stable throughout the entire distribution system. Portland has been using chloramines successfully for over 50 years, and adds an amount to maintain an effective level of disinfection throughout the distribution system, no more.

The ratio of chlorine to ammonia is approximately 4.9 to 1 by weight, with treatment levels ranging seasonally between 2.2 and 2.5 parts per million. To maintain an effective disinfectant in the system during the warmer months of the year, the concentration may be adjusted. This is to account for seasonally warm water temperatures that may cause chlorine residuals to decrease more rapidly, much like an evaporation process. 

Some customers can be sensitive to changes in chlorine levels and will notice the fluctuations more than others. These changes do not signal a significant change in chlorine in the system, but is more likely due to work on the system or a change in outside temperatures, indicating that the chlorine is dissipating more quickly in a certain area. These changes in the chlorine taste and odor generally pass on their own after a few hours, and are not cause for alarm. Even though these changes may be detected, the chlorine level is still well within the accepted range.

Chlorine odor can be minimized by:

  • Putting a pitcher of water in the refrigerator overnight to allow some of the chlorine to dissipate. 

  • Adding a slice of citrus or cucumber to the water to dechlorinate the water in a few hours. 

  • Boiling water and making coffee or tea to reduce chlorine by approximately 30%

  • Putting plain water on a soft boil for 20 minutes

  • A Vitamin C tablet of 1000 mg may be crushed and added to bath water 

In humans, chlorine is neutralized through the digestive system, however fish are particularly susceptible to changes in chlorine and ammonia levels, as they absorb these elements into their bloodstream directly through their gills. Chlorine and ammonia can be counteracted in fish tanks by using a special filtering system, or using an additive or conditioner to remove them. Fish owners should check with their pet or aquarium store for these products.

Activated carbon based faucet and shower filters

For those with sensitivities, other alternatives to minimize chlorine can include the installation of activated carbon based faucet and shower filters. For recommendations on filters, NSF is a non-profit organization that tests and certifies drinking water filtration products. They can be contacted at, or at 1-800-673-6275.

To learn more about home water quality, visit or contact the Water Quality Line at 503-823-7525, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Sarah Messier
Water Quality

Join Our Team: Right of Way Agent II

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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.

Join our team!

Right of Way Agent II 
Closing Date/Time: Monday, April 6, 2015 4:30 PM Pacific Time 
Salary: $26.09 - $27.36 Hourly
Job Type: Full Time
Location: Portland Building, 1120 SW 5th Avenue, Portland, OR 

The City is recruiting for a Right of Way Agent II for the Portland Water Bureau. The Right of Way Agent II (ROWA II) works under the direct supervision of the Right of Way Program Manager to perform specialized assignments that include property acquisition and negotiation, including for fee property interests, easements, permits, and leases; property management; encroachment mitigation; preparation of legal documents, agreements, and contracts; preparation and evaluation of legal descriptions and exhibits; evaluation and interpretation of title reports, appraisal reports, environmental reports, and other professional reports related to real property; and, supporting the City Attorney’s Office in condemnation proceedings or other Bureau business.


For additional information and to apply for the position, START HERE.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY 03/19/15: Eastbound Traffic Lane on SE Division between SE 66 & SE 69 Avenues Re-Opens, Work Zone Shifts to Center Lane

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Official Traffic Advisory 

A contractor for the Portland Water Bureau is currently installing large piping connections in the intersection of SE 68th Avenue at SE Division Street. 

Google map of the intersection: 

Previously, the eastbound lane on SE Division Street between SE 66th and SE 69th avenues was diverted into the center lane around the work zone. Beginning on Monday, March 23, the work zone will be shifted to the center lane, re-opening the eastbound lane for traffic.

Traffic on SE 68th Avenue, between SE Division and Mt. Tabor Park, is open to local access only. Detour signs are posted and sidewalks remain open for pedestrians.

Motorists and bicyclists are urged to use alternate routes, remember to drive slowly, and exercise caution when traveling in and around the construction area. Typically, work hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, with possible occasional Saturday work.

This work is slated for completion in spring 2015.

The new piping is part of the water system improvements required to connect two of the city’s large water conduits to the Westside supply line.

Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information

Water Bureau Conducts Seasonal Supply Planning, Focusing on Supply Reliability, Water Quality, Cost Management, & System Maintenance

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Bull Run Watershed

The Bull Run water system is designed to capture and store rainfall from the rainy season to provide an adequate water supply during the dry summer months. The city has an additional, high quality water source in the Columbia South Shore Well Field which augments summer supply. This groundwater source is the state's second largest water supply after Bull Run.

The Portland Water Bureau is prepared to manage the water supply to last until the rainy season begins in the fall, even during atypical weather conditions.

Since 1993, the Water Bureau has developed annual contingency plans for summer season supply. Each spring an interdisciplinary team evaluates a range of variables related to water supply and demand. These include available water supplies, weather predictions, past and projected water demand, the impacts of regional conservation programs, public health protection, water quality, and native fish protection to name a few.

Operational strategies based on the plan are continuously updated throughout the summer -- as warranted by weather, water demand, and/or changes in supply availability.

Visit the Water Bureau’s Seasonal Supply Planning webpage to learn more and access additional information, including the 2014 Seasonal Water Supply Augmentation and Contingency Plan, 2014 Summer Supply Updates, and the 2014 Summer Water Supply Season Retrospective.

Headworks Operators Recognized with Award from NOAA

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Accepting award 
Water Bureau water treatment operator (right) accepts the prestigious award from Acting Meteorologist-in-Charge Tyree Wilde (left).

On January 15, Portland Water Bureau water treatment operations staff at Headworks were presented with a Length of Service Award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS) for maintaining weather records for the last 125 years.

The award was presented by Tyree Wilde, the Acting Meteorologist-in-Charge of the Portland Weather Forecast Office. 

The Water Bureau is one of the few remaining charter members of the NWS Cooperative Observing Program (Coop), taking daily weather reports from the beginning of the program in 1889. The Coop is a network of more than 9,000 volunteer observers across the United States who provide critical weather information that forms the backbone of this nation’s climate observations.   

Reports consist of precipitation amounts as well as maximum and minimum temperatures for the date.  Long, continuous observation records provide an accurate picture of a locale’s weather patterns and give climatologists and others a basis on which to predict future trends.

Andrew Degner
Water Treatment